Rugby

The English Media Reaction To Ireland's Grand Slam-Destroying Performance

The English Media Reaction To Ireland's Grand Slam-Destroying Performance

Stephen Jones, for The Sunday Times, called Joe Schmidt's side a 'vengeful, inspired, Herculean Ireland'.

Jones added that 'England had never been so battered and second best as they were in the first half' and that they were 'so far onto the back foot that they were almost behind the dead-ball line.'

Though he was full of praise for the nearly all of the Irish players, Jones said that Johnny Sexton was 'not himself' and that he is starting to become a 'bizarre figure'.

That's certainly strange considering the majority of commentators agreed that the Ireland out-half had a fine game, despite clearly being targeted by England and being the subject of numerous late tackles.

Johnny Sexton, however, is becoming a rather bizarre figure – he hits the deck after most contact with the opposition as if in pain, whether or not the contact is illegal or simply hard. Cian Healy wandered over at one stage and seemed to be suggesting that Sexton should get up. Like England, he was not himself, and yet the way this Irish team coped with all the adversity was stunning.

Also for The Sunday Times, Stuart Barnes, in a match report titled, 'Billy Brought Back Down To Earth', said that Joe Schmidt was clearly the better coach on Saturday.

Whereas England had nothing new to offer, Ireland had flipped around their game and England were made to look tactically second best, at times almost naïve.

It was a reminder that, for all the achievements under his reign, Jones is not the only coach of the highest quality operating in this hemisphere.

Players win and lose games, Jones and Schmidt insist as much, but the players go out with some sort of plan to put into effect. Put simply, Ireland had a superior plan, and on the day the superior coach.

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The Guardian's Robert Kitson called yesterday's performance by Ireland an 'extraordinary, super-charged show of defiance'.

A surprise? Perhaps not so much. This was the sixth time in their last seven Six Nations visits across the Irish Sea that England have fallen into the emerald flytrap. Ireland’s defeat in Cardiff had left them unable to win the title but it had failed to douse their spirit.

Whether it was the dreaded prospect of mid-table anonymity or simply the extra incentive of a looming Lions tour, this was another extraordinary, super-charged show of defiance, almost fit to sit alongside the All Black triumph in terms of intense satisfaction.

Andy Bull, also writing for The Guardian, suggested that England ran into a team which defied Eddie Jones' theory about his side.

It was not so long ago that Jones was explaining his theory that England’s distinct advantage over most other sides is that they possess a rare combination of power, pace and skill. Other teams, he said, might have one or two of those qualities but England have all three. And, honed over the years, he hopes the mix will make them the best team in the world. But on Saturday they ran into a team every bit as powerful, every bit as quick and every bit as skilful.

According to The Telegraph's Mick Cleary, being crowned Six Nations champions on Saturday was a 'hollow feeling' for the English players. He added that he only English with a smile on his face at the Aviva was Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell.

This was the real Ireland, the side that had also stopped the All Blacks on their 18-match winning streak, and it hurt England, hurt them deeply. What a hollow feeling it was as they were presented with the RBS Six Nations trophy, victors yet vanquished. This memory will live long with both sides.

Ireland have salvaged their own season, runners-up in the tournament while England have had a horrible reality check. They are champions but it will not feel that way. They were on the podium yet heart-broken. The only Englishman with a smile on his face was Andy Farrell, the Ireland defence coach and architect of an unbreakable green wall.

Tom Cary, also of The Telegraph, suggested that Ireland need to find more avenues to victory if they are to progress.

On their day Ireland can beat any team in the world. They proved that  at Soldier Field and again yesterday. But it feels sometimes as if  they need the high-intensity occasion to really get up for it. Their  win percentage since the World Cup hovers around the 50 per cent mark.  Joe Schmidt’s team need to become a more consistent force, and perhaps  find more ways to win, if they are going to become a consistent force  at the top of world rugby and challenge for the 2019 World Cup.

Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Watch: Brian O'Driscoll Enjoyed A Little Laugh At Eddie Jones' Expense On ITV

PJ Browne
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