RBS 6 Nations 2012 Review: Ireland

A difficult tournament to sum up from Ireland’s perspective. Before the tournament there was much optimism and thoughts of a title challenge, but the campaign started with a disappointing, and somewhat controversial, defeat against Wales, and ended with a whimper in the rain of Twickenham.

Declan Kidney

Starting with the positives, Italy and Scotland were both clinically dispatched, the latter maybe better than anyone else managed in the tournament. In between those two victories, a draw was garnered in Paris, which was both a plus and a minus, given the second half capitulation. The Wales defeat leaves more of a sour taste than anything, while the England defeat will be quickly erased from the memory, after lessons have been learned of course.

On the individual front, the form of Stephen Ferris and Rob Kearney were the two brightest highlights. Both showed incredible form at times, before being extinguished this weekend. Others to shine, but somewhat more inconsistently, were Cian Healy, Rory Best, Paul O’Connell, Donncha Ryan and Mike Ross, which shows without doubt where Ireland’s strength still lies… Up front.

On the negative side, the absence of Brian O’Driscoll was never really covered and no real base was ever set at half back, which will be worrying for Declan Kidney, more of whom later. The big individual negatives were Donncha O’Callaghan, Gordon D’Arcy and Jamie Heaslip, all of whom were shadows of their former glorious selves.

So worrying signs for Irish fans. While other teams, England most notably, have used this first “post World Cup” 6 Nations as a chance to blood several youngsters, Kidney stuck by his experienced men, who will struggle to be at the next Rugby World Cup. This reluctance to give youth its chance is a massive negative mark against Kidney’s name. It doesn’t help that those who were calling for Ryan instead of O’Callaghan were ultimately proved right as he gave a Man of the Match performance against Scotland, while O’Callaghan struggled in mediocrity.

Coach Kidney had a bit of a nightmare this tournament to be frank. Loyalty to first choice players is one thing, but continued loyalty in the face of substandard performances by the likes of O’Callaghan, Heaslip, Murray and D’Arcy in particular, whilst ignoring the claims of Ryan, Tuohy, Zebo and others, leaves him with more than a little egg on his face.

Ireland’s provincial set-up and form in this year’s Heineken Cup was the perfect setup for the 6 Nations, yet players who consistently turn it on in big club games seemed stifled in the green of Ireland. So why is that? Different tactical set-up? Players asked to play slightly different roles (O’Brien, Earls, Court off the bench vs England for example)? A fear of his youngsters losing? I’m sure you have your opinion, but for me it is a case of all 3.

Kidney’s level of support has markedly shrunk as a result. He is now faced with a massive dilemma. Ireland have a Summer Tour to New Zealand coming up. The World Champions in their own back yard. He has a Captain in O’Driscoll who is not getting any younger and needs replacing at some point. His replacement O’Connell is also currently injured and will be 35 come the next World Cup. At some point soon, Kidney has to give the younger legs a run, but is New Zealand the place for that?

So ultimately, Ireland flattered to deceive. Kidney will be praying for the safe and fit return of O’Driscoll and O’Connell, and desperately hoping his masters at the IRFU are happy with his performance. The fans certainly aren’t.

By Mark Bonsall

18 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2012 Review: Ireland

  1. What youngsters are you referring to? Ireland doesn’t have the forwards to match Wales or England, let alone the AB’s. The back-line can be replaced but doesn’t really need to be – that’s not Ireland’s problem. We lack top level forwards, OR Kidney doesn’t care to give forwards a chance (I think the latter). He’s too conservative. He picks the best team but that’s not always the right way. Sometimes you have to bleed new forwards even if they’re not the best, and look to the future. Kidney has no vision and needs to go IMO.

    1. Healy, O’Brien and Ferris are all world class when in good form. However you certainly have a point when you talk about Kidneys conservatism.

  2. Ireland do need something fresh, if Kidney does go it really depends on other options. The forwards were s disaster,

    He needs to bleed new forwards, maybe if only to create competition, I think they still have a great backline and they do have strength in depth, this is why they could put away teams like Scotland and Italy, because their backs show that much more than England if they get go forward ball then they score tries.

  3. The forwards were a disaster against England, who got it going on the day. I maintain that in the early games, with O’Connell there, they had much more going for them. I fear Best is not a Captain….

    Kidney’s reticence, when placed alongside, the admittedly pressure free, Lancaster’s will to select inexperience, was marked.

    Mallett for Ireland? (tongue somewhat in cheek but you never know)

  4. ok so heres the changes that have to be made bods hopefully going to come back in and play well for leinster injury free for rest of season hope he moves in a channel in attack to 12 and in defense stays in the 13! tommy bowe and earls to fight for 13 jersey. touhy to come in for 4 jersey along side POC ryan to be an impact sub. marshal has to come in for the 9 spot have him on the bench atleast for last 30 mins reddan presently best option. back row players to get a look in Heaslip hasn’t been as bad as people say he is working the trenches just the balance of the back row. O’brien Ferris and o’mahony in the reckoning would like to see ryan, ruddock and Henry get a look in out side chance leo from leinster he’s 20 stone and dynamic! do we need another battering ram tho?? props hagan has to get the bench spot as court is a loose head and only a loose head. rog I feel needs to step aside sextons defense makes him the best choice plus the rest of his game isn’t bad, keatley should get the bench as he plays 10 12 13 and 15 in connacht and is a strong runner. we are blessed with back 3 players zebo is two early for me great in attack but rest of his game needs work like fionn carr. fitz to be injury free and playing like he was before x mas and he’ll have trimbles jersey 14 is a close call maybe have a flexible back line interchanging bowe and earls. dave kearny felix jones and craig gilroy all up to international pace at the mo.
    sorry this is getting long its not doom and gloom tho kick out darcy and O’callaghan and the only plus 30’s u have on the team are bod ross poc and reddan with a young bench thats important cos the bench is the future marshal hagan to name a few. summers not going to be fun hope the november ones will be more winable.

      1. Try and poach Joey Schmidt from Leinster?, but he want to leave a job where he has a good chance to be a winner to join Ireland?

  5. Does Darcy have some dodgey photos of Kidney? (bad joke i know). He was Ireland’s worst player throughout the whole of the last 6N and this one. Kidney seems to see him as the ‘safe’ option but he is the antithesis of safe. So many unforced errors and no potential for the future.

    Do people think BOD can make it back to great heights? I know we shouldn’t right him off but hes 33 just had another big injury i dont think he’ll be able to carry Ireland to the next RWC.

    If he doesn’t what do you make of:

    Reddan, Sexton,
    Mcfadden, Earls, (is that too lightweight?)
    Bowe, Kearney, Fitz

    Or maybe try and move Bowe to the centre I think he is a great centre (Lions 3rd test for example)

  6. I am a Munster man and I believe that Ireland should get rid of Kidney. He is too conservative and appears to be picking players on reputation and not form. Jjust think O’Callaghan, Heaslip, D’arcy, and O’Leary. I would have played Cullen alongside Ryan in the second roe when O’Connell got injured. Heaslip has been outplayed by his opposite number in every match. Maybe put O’Brien at 8 and bring in O’Mahony or even Leamy. Heaslip has been complete crap for ages. Everyboy has been raving about Kearney under the high balls etc. I would expect him to catch them, it’d his bloody job after all. He needs to play heads up rugby and link with his wingers in attack etc. As far as I can see he plays heads down rugby and doesn’t link because he doesn’t know where the support is most of the time. Too many times the play ends with him and we end up grtting slow ball from a promising attack – not good enough. Against England Sexton was out thought and out played by a 20 year old – again not good enough. But God knows what we will do for a tighthead. Ross while he can scrummage to some degree is baggage around the field – about as usefull as a wardrobe. He is sucking for air 10 minutes into the match. First off lets get rid of Kidney. I wonder if Dean Richards might be interested, if not in the Ireland job then maybe as a replacement for McGahan at Munster!!!!!!!

  7. Proinsias!! u reallynknow ur stuff! leam and cullen were injured and leamy is crap!! cullen poc and ryan all play loose head lock! the nly irish tight heads are o’callanaghan, dan touhy and damien browne. tonner and POC can play their but not great. as for kearny he was on the shoulder for 2 of bowes tries which made bowe have the space to dummy to him and score! who would u pick 15 ?? earls can’t catch a high ball, fitz no that experiment was a fail, murphy retired! jones is your only option he should be in the squad but not ahead of kearny! have dave kearny fighting with jones for second place.

    1. I forgot that Cullen was injured. The other comments are in relation to future selection. Reputations shouldnt count. Form should. I am not saying to replace Kearney, he just needs to play heads up rugby with ball in hand. I also believe that loose head and tight head shouldn’t be as important in the 2nd row. If players are that rigid in their abilities then forget them. Look at Donnacha Ryan, he can play number 6 if required and do a pretty good job, not that I’d say he enjoys it too much. Several players are past their sell by date while others are just not doing enough of what’s expected from them. While you might think Leamy is crap I venture to say that Heaslip hasn’t carried much ball if any from behind dominant scrums this season. I would nearly put Leamy in before Heaslip at this stage as Heaslip preens and poses but really does f#*k all else. We are stuck for a real No. 7 but I would play a back row of Ferris, O’Brien and O’Mahony in the absence of Wally who may have one more season in him. Toner as an option for the second row. Yeah, that would really give us a hard edge in the second row. Not!!!!

      1. I never said tonner to play for ireland said him and poc can play tight head badly! its all about your stength and weight for tight head lock touhy would be my choice very abrasive but a bit of a penalty machine but so is doc so nothing new! heaslip has been doing the 7’s role i will agree he hasn’t been playing great but either has o’brien.

  8. I’d still like to see O’Brien at 8. I’d stick with Marray at 9 as he’s the future and have a look at marshall as well. Dunno about Reddan. Sexton needs to step up and I wouldn’t discard O’Gara yet as Keatley has a bit to go to develop as an international 10. BOD at 12, Fitzgerald at 13 might be an option but I think he’s an arrogant self absorbed twat so it kills me to suggest it. Earls and Bowe on the wings. Trimble is honest but dissappointed overall this campaign. Kearney at 15 but he needs to play heads up with the ball. I’d also keep a close eye on Felix Jones, Simon Zebo, the younger Kearney and McFadden as cover options. Varley is every abrasive but needs game time at test level. But lets face it the big problem is tighthead. I hoped that Sale might make something of Buckley but I don’t thing he’s getting any game time. Any prospects for or ideas on tighthead?

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