Keith Earls was shown up in a huge way very early in the game, and while he fought to come back into it, he’s a somewhat fragile player who isn’t responding well to being moved around in position. Continue reading
Warm-up matches that are scheduled after squads have been picked are an odd case study. Consciously or subconsciously, players are aware that the dangers of potential injury far outweigh the dangers of potential poor performance – they’re already on the plane, so to speak. Continue reading
Such an arduous selection of warm-up games always had the potential of throwing some injury spanners into the selectorial works, but for the most part, Ireland’s initial medical reports were largely positive. Long-term sick-notes Jerry Flannery, Stephen Ferris, Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy have all come through their rehab and out the other side, and it looked until this week that the sole trade-off would be the luckless Felix Jones. That has all changed with David Wallace’s most unfortunate injury. Continue reading
Sure, Ireland have held a few things in reserve over the course of these warm-up matches. No coach wants to go running through their whole playbook in the weeks before a big tournament just so the opponents’ video analysts can figure out ways to stop you playing. Continue reading
Ireland prepared for the last World Cup by sitting in the freezing cold in the Polish countryside, eating (8,000 calories per day!) and playing contentious friendlies – witness the anthem debate before the Italian game in Ravenhill and the Battle of Bayonne. Continue reading
Ireland are in trouble. Despite the four point margin of defeat, this game was not close, and if the final score was in doubt until the last kick of the game, the winner was decided with half an hour left on the clock.
With eight minutes left to play in Lansdowne Road, an almost entirely full strength Irish team was losing to a half-strength French side by eighteen points. The French, playing their second and last of two warm-up games, and with their world cup squad announced more than three months ago, were more interested in getting out of Lansdowne Road uninjured than the cosmetics of the scoreline, and allowed Ireland two late, late tries to soothe the frustration of the home fans. Continue reading