A bonus point win, against England, away at Twickenham, in the Six Nations. A very rare feat for any team. For Eddie O'Sullivan however, it was chalked down as a poor performance.
The ex-Ireland coach refused to be fooled by the scoreline or the nature of the win and the occasion. No, he was determined that he was "not drinking the kool aid" today.
Following a heart stopping game, where Ireland managed to ward off a performance from themselves that was riddled with frustrating errors, and an English side so dominant in the scrum they made Tom Court (at tighthead) look like Carl Hayman, O'Sullivan was not impressed when speaking on RTÉ after the game.
This is a really poor performance. We didn’t put England away after the 72nd, 73rd minute. 14 men for most of the game, I thought we were rudderless for most of the game.
We pulled away in the end, England were out on their feet, we put together a nice passage of play, got the try that broke England and it was all over. But at three points with ten minutes to go is shocking. Our scrum was a mess, our discipline was awful our handling errors were off the charts.
We still came away with a bonus point win because England just ran out of gas. But no one is going to convince me that if England had 15 men today we would have gone out and won playing like that. If we played like that against 15 men today we wouldn’t have won. And that’s the fact. And though we can celebrate the win and the four win in Twickenham, winning on the road, all that’s great but that is not a good performance.
We can’t expect teams to play with 14 men every week so I’m not going to drink the kool aid. Happy with the win, happy with the bonus point, but lets not get too carried away here.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) March 12, 2022
"Zero craic Eddie", quipped Jerry Flannery following his former coach's rant.
Both Flannery and fellow pundit Jamie Heaslip were more positive about Ireland's win, while acknowledging the shortcomings and the red card as well. They were clearly drawing from experience, with both men well aware of the level of difficulty of going to Twickenham in the Six Nations.
"At the end of the day you’re playing England in Twickenham, that’s going to be difficult," Heaslip noted.
"They went down to 14 men and Ireland in the past would probably have been a bit more ruthless with how they’ve done it but this game is huge for a couple of different reasons. The fact that they won it as late as they did shows to me a really good mindset in terms of staying in the fight that long."
Heaslip and Flannery spoke a lot of sense, but there was logic to O'Sullivan's point. England were extremely dominant in the scrum, even against Tadhg Furlong, which will come as a huge concern to Andy Farrell and scrum coach John Fogarty.
At times England's power looked like it might become too much, and begged the unanswerable question; what would the score have been had Charlie Ewels not been red carded in the very first minute of the game? The question mark over Ireland's physicality doesn't just remain but has probably grown stronger.
While there were many positives for Ireland, Keenan's display for example, the most encouraging takeaway from this game will be England's improved performance.
Should they beat France next week and Ireland defeat Scotland, the Six Nations title will likely be heading back to these shores.