19 Feb Positive week for Irish Rugby despite French heartbreak – Reggie Corner
All in all it’s been a very positive week for Irish rugby following a dramatic defeat for the national team in Paris last weekend.
The game against France made for hard viewing, where yet again Ireland failed to convert their chances and couldn’t get the crucial scores they needed following sustained pressure on the French line.
Many people were left scratching their heads and wondering just how Ireland managed to lose a game in which they had so much possession and territory advantage, but in the end it was the Achilles heel of this team, the scrum, which let them down.
Guy Noves was criticized for leaving his first choice front row on the bench against Ireland at the start but in the end may said it was some tactical genius by him as he unloaded a lethal front row combination in the second half which was ultimately Ireland’s undoing.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was a game Ireland should have won as the French to be honest were pretty poor. Ireland seemed to lack any real try scoring threats and once the injuries started to mount we were in real trouble.
Once again the ugly sight of concussion raised its head with Mike McCarthy getting stretchered off after a nasty head collision. I really do fear for the future of the game unless the concussion issue is immediately addressed and sorted out. I am not talking about “Head Injury Assessments” here either, as clearly these are reactionary rather than precautionary. Something around the laws in the tackle area has to change or quite simply the game will become too dangerous to play. With the release of the film “Concussion” this week which outlines the dramatic effects brain injury had on NFL players, it is no longer acceptable that the game is allowed to continue in its current format. Change must be made now before we see any more such devastating injuries.
On a more positive note, it was a good week for the IRFU in the world of contract negotiations. Following weeks of speculation about the future of certain players, the IRFU have managed to complete a raft of signatures and secure the futures of many top players here in Ireland. This is great news for the game on these shores as there was genuine fear of a mass exodus.
The one disappointment in all this is the move of Robbie Henshaw to Leinster. It’s certainly not a negative for the player or Leinster but Connacht are the big losers here. Once again the western province has to succumb to the financial big wigs and without the clear support of the IRFU they were never going to be able to retain Henshaw. It further proves the fact that Connacht, unfortunately, is nothing more than a development academy for young players and once they come of age its good luck and thanks. That’s a hard thing for Connacht to swallow but that’s the reality. One wonders how much longer they will manage to retain the services of their great coach Pat Lam either or will Connacht also become the training ground for the next generation of quality coaches too!