Ireland haven’t scored thirty points or more in an international match since they beat Fiji 41-9 in November 2009.
The two most obvious conclusions to draw from that piece of data is that
i] we’re not a free-scoring team; and
ii] we don’t play an easy schedule.
Both of these inferences are correct.
Leo Cullen’s men ran up nine tries against a Russian team who, while they managed two fine tries of their own, were a side of very limited strengths. The last time Ireland scored more tries was eight years ago when we bagged ten against Namibia in RWC03; coincidentally, that was also the last time we scored more than this morning’s total.
It’s good to see that Ireland can actually score tries, even if they only come against a standard of opposition we play just once or twice every decade; we’ve struggled somewhat to create chances and score from them under the Kidney/Gaffney axis.
In 2008/09, we averaged just under 25pts/game [248 pts in 10 Tests], and that included two tests against Canada [one home, one away] and a game against the US. The summer tour to North America was admittedly with a team denuded of Ireland’s Lions contingent.
In 2009/10 we averaged 22.5pts/game [225 pts in 10 Tests], with no gimmes bar the November match against Fiji. A tough schedule included a typical Six Nations season, home November tests against the aforementioned islanders, South Africa and Australia, and a summer tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Last season, 2010/11 we averaged 20.1pts/game [181pts in 9 tests] with a November schedule of South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina and the Six Nations in an alleged ‘spring’.
This season will have considerably more test matches than the average one: four warm-up tests and at least four RWC matches [and hopefully three more on top of that] before we reach Christmas. However, it’s obviously still possible to derive an average pts/game. Before this morning’s game against Russia, Ireland had averaged 14.6pts/game, scoring just 86pts in 6 tests. With the Russian 62 totted up, that rises to a more respectable 21pts/game.
The nature of the Six Nations, played in the damp and cold of February and March on wet ground between teams who know each other well, means that it is largely a low-scoring tournament … and the November internationals are hardly going to be any better, seeing as it’s the equivalent distance away on the other side of Christmas and the weather is scarcely any better.
Still, that’s some pretty low-scoring rugby. Nice to see that we’re still capable of finding our way over the line, even if it’s against low-quality position.