Rugby

Neil Francis Partly Blames Aviva Crowd For Lacklustre Ireland Performance Vs Fiji

Neil Francis Partly Blames Aviva Crowd For Lacklustre Ireland Performance Vs Fiji

Ireland squeaked past Fiji at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening, the 23-20 scoreline a fair reflection of a game riddled with handling errors and mistakes.

Despite some nervy moments and Ireland's inability to stretch the lead to a more comfortable margin, the Aviva Stadium crowd were in good spirits throughout as some entertaining rugby was on show, with intercepts and line-breaks happening with regularity.

Some of Fiji's more flamboyant play was cheered by some of the Irish fans, and at one point in the first half a Mexican wave broke out during a lull in the action, and this did not go down well with Neil Francis, who was far less impressed by his experience at the match.

In his column for Independent.ie, Francis was in the process of listing the reasons why the Ireland performance was not up to scratch, and after suggesting that the front-row did not operate to a satisfactory level, he suggested that the relaxed attitude from the Aviva Stadium crowd contributed to the Irish players taking their foot off the gas.

Ireland's front-row must also question their performance. I had always thought that David Campese would have made a better loosehead than Campese Ma'afu. We knew that Italy were surprised by the Fijians in this phase last week but Greg Feek will need to get his finger out before the Argies arrive next week.

I blame the crowd too who had started the Mexican wave in the 26th minute - always a bad sign - and they began to cheer Fiji in the 54th minute when Nagusa nearly scored again. The expectation was that teamwork and structure would trump individualism and uninhibited expression.

It didn't happen and Ireland, very worryingly, were no closer to wearing Fiji down the further the match went on.

Mexican waves, the most divisive spectator activity in modern sports.

Advertisement

While thousands of fans were more than happy to participate, anyone on Twitter during the match would have noticed some strongly worded Tweets for those that feel there is no place for a Mexican wave in what was a test match.

That said, is Francis being a tad harsh here? Were this a Six Nations clash, or a game in which the coach did not make 13 changes from the first-choice team that won a big game the week before, then a Mexican wave would never break out, but this was Fiji against our second string in between the two big tests in the series.

Where do you stand on Mexican waves? Are they all in good fun or should they be binned? Get in touch and let us know.

You can read the rest of Francis' assessment of the Fiji match in full over on Independent.ie.

Mikey Traynor

You may also like