The Official Irish Rugby Thread

Interesting how the form, or lack of it, for James Ryan goes unquestioned. Hasn’t had a stand out game in a long while
He's doing all the unseen work, dontcha know.

On another note, can anyone see the point in bringing in Earls to play at centre with about ten minutes to go?
Nice the see the Leinster ghoys beat Japan.Good of them to throw on a few of the 'has been' Munster lads for another cap.Cannot fault the display and would have to credit them for not allowing Japan to play.They dictated the pace,with good line speed,quick rucks and a solid pack that were well organised.It should be a good game against the All Blacks but I reckon another brave defeat ;-)
Interesting how the form, or lack of it, for James Ryan goes unquestioned. Hasn’t had a stand out game in a long while
To be expected with the state of the media but there has has definitely been some growing questions. It’s like they hope that if they say nothing his non selection for the Lions will be forgotten.

Not helped by POM having to remind him he was captain yesterday.
Lenihan positive but marking Farrell's card at the same time:
Fitting in a way that the Japanese should be the first international side to grace the biggest attendance, close to 40,000, the Aviva Stadium has hosted since March 2020. When it comes to delivering the finer skills of the game and capitalising on the possibilities open to teams prepared to play a high tempo, ball-in-hand game, they are a joy to watch.

At least that was the expectation in advance of kick-off but, by the time Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli had called full time on a thoroughly entertaining, if somewhat lopsided encounter, Andy Farrell’s Ireland were the ones who delivered the all-court handling and offloading game, completely overwhelming the Japanese at their own game.

What an alternative to the bang and bash approach offered up by both teams in the recent Lions series in South Africa over the summer. Under Farrell, Ireland have been steadily building towards a more expansive approach but this was the most compelling evidence we have seen in his two-year reign to-date that the work being carried out behind the scenes in the high-performance unit in Abbotstown is finally beginning to bear fruit.
It’s only four months since Ireland struggled to subdue the same opposition at the same arena for a hard-fought 39-31 victory. That was achieved without Ireland’s touring Lions and the return to arms of Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne and Jack Conan up front helped deliver a dominant set-piece platform, allied with lightning-quick recycling at the breakdown, enabling Ireland to rip the Japanese defence apart.
In the opening half alone, Ireland made 14 offloads. To put that in context, they made just five over the entire 80 minutes against the same opposition last July. Couple that with 14 line breaks — nine in a spectacular opening half — and you begin to get a flavour of the positive mindset and intent Ireland carried into this contest.

Lions apart, the other key returnee was Ireland’s latest rugby centurion, team captain Johnny Sexton. Capping a memorable personal achievement with a try that was celebrated in equal measure by every one of his teammates, not to mention the standing ovation that greeted the touchdown from the stands, it was a day that will live long in the memory of an outstanding player and individual who continues to defy father time to play at this level.
For how long more this can continue is probably in the lap of the gods. For now, on the back of quality performances like this, Farrell has no option but to continue placing his faith in a driven personality who appears to thrive in adversity.
It hurt Sexton badly that Warren Gatland ignored his claims for a third Lions tour last summer, even more so when a rookie with just a single cap in Marcus Smith was called out to South Africa as cover for the injured Finn Russell.
In time Sexton will come to accept that missing that challenging tour enabled him have a thorough pre-season of preparation that allowed him hit the ground running in supreme physical shape from the start of this season. Whether opting to run, kick or pass Sexton looked totally in control.
More than anyone else on the field, he will realise that Saturday’s accommodating defensive performance by Japan will bear no relation to the line speed and physicality about to come down the line from New Zealand.
That said, Ireland, who so often struggle in dealing with the grinding physical template delivered by the likes of England and South Africa, will benefit from having to place less reliance on their close-in driving maul to generate try-scoring opportunities — even if New Zealand will be far less accommodating in granting Ireland the ruck speed generated against Japan.

The fact that eight of Ireland’s nine tries were delivered by backs, from a variety of attacking set-ups, or by clever use of the boot, be it grubbers or cross-field kicks, augurs well, with only Cian Healy’s try at the death the product of a close-in drive.
Saturday’s outing proved especially gratifying for two players about whom questions were asked when the team was announced last Thursday. Jamison Gibson-Park often has to play second fiddle to Luke McGrath at Leinster but his speed of pass, allied to the running threat he posed around the breakdown stressed the Japanese back row no end. This performance places him firmly in the debate to challenge Conor Murray for the starting No 9 shirt next weekend.
Adding to the debate is the fact that Gibson-Park kicked just a single box kick over the course of the opening half, opting instead to shift the point of attack quickly. This signals a welcome departure in approach from the coaching staff, given that he was clearly playing to instruction.
The other player under close scrutiny coming into this one was Leinster winger James Lowe, whose poor defensive reads and lack of work-rate off the ball forced Farrell to drop him in the latter stages of last season’s Six Nations.
It was clear from the outset that Lowe was offered the freedom to roam off his left wing as a support runner behind the front line attack with a licence to thrill. He is brilliant at that with his handling and offloading skills in close quarters creating many opportunities for line breaks for others. His standout quality last season was restricted to his booming left boot. Such was the emphasis on retaining possession on Saturday, Lowe didn’t kick once.
As always, the ability to control the tempo of the game comes back to the quality of the set-piece. In this, forward coaches John Fogarty and Paul O’Connell have good reason to be pleased. The switch of Andrew Porter from tighthead to the loosehead side of the scrum means that Ireland’s most comfortable ball-handling props can now be accommodated in the same starting team without, on the evidence so far, compromising the scrum.
By selecting Porter to start again at loosehead against the powerful New Zealand front row next weekend, scrum coach Fogarty will find out if Porter has adapted sufficiently to live with the best at this level. That revamped front row of Porter, Furlong and Ronan Kelleher adds so much to Ireland’s playmaking and ball carrying ability around the field and is full of possibilities.
Given that Australia were pushed all the way to beat Japan only two weeks ago, this comprehensive win has put New Zealand on notice that this Irish side now carries some new and perhaps unexpected strings to their bow that they might not have anticipated prior to setting out on tour.
The challenge for Ireland will be in attempting to reproduce that formula against a New Zealand side who thrive in unstructured rugby and create havoc off turnovers. If that tempts Ireland to go back into their shells then the gains made in attack on Saturday will have been in vain. Next weekend will tell us a lot.
Thorns as critical as ever

'Sexton is often portrayed as not only an exacting character, but a scowling and angry one as well, which is unfair really, for he is an engaging, intelligent and humorous personality most of the time'.
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