The Case For Keeping On Declan Kidney

The Case For Keeping On Declan Kidney
By Rugby Nerds
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Gavin Grace makes the case for the defence...

He may have just led Ireland to our worst ever Six Nations performance, but you'll have to excuse me from joining in the apparent party following the decision not to renew Declan Kidney's contract. I'm certainly in the minority, judging by the reaction on t'internet, but with no clear succession plan in place, this could be a foolish mistake. Should the wrong man take the role, then I have a big fear that the sort of nightmare Championship we all just endured could become an annual humiliation.

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The Ireland job is an attractive proposition. The pay can't be bad, and for an island of our size there is plenty of young talent, and even the odd experienced talisman too. It's from this platform that the new coach will build for the 2015 World Cup, but arguably that process was already underway. Since last summer in particular, new players have been blooded and tested and as a result Craig Gilroy, Simon Zebo, Luke Marshall and others are now in, or close to, our ideal starting XV.

Yes, some of that process was forced upon Declan Kidney because of injuries, but shouldn't those injuries be a factor in deciding whether he should be kept? The crisis that beset the team was the worst I, and I imagine most other Irish rugby fans, can remember. In spite of how difficult it was, Ireland performed admirably in most games. We lost to England on a day when the only real winner was Mother Nature, and to Scotland when, in boxing parlance, we won every round until they landed the knockout blow moments from the end. Rome aside, Ireland were never abject, and on that day there was very little, if anything, to play for.

Declan Kidney was by no means perfect. Brian O'Driscoll should still be Ireland captain, and the Ronan O'Gara situation was badly handled from the beginning of the Championship. If his mistakes, as some pundits have suggested, have seen him lose the faith of the dressing room then yes, absolutely, he should be fired. And if a prestigious coach with a strong pedigree can replace him, then the IRFU are probably right in making this announcement. However, with Conor O'Shea sticking with Quins, and Joe Schmidt unlikely to leave Leinster, the field of 'acceptable' (in my eyes) replacements is very small indeed. I want the man who leads our country's most important rugby team to be someone I can trust impeccably, based on a proven track record. Should someone with those credentials not be found, then the question will remain - would we have been better off sticking with the Devil we knew?

Declan Kidney's tenure as coach ended with a whimper, and many are pleased. However, even his biggest detractors will have to admit that Grand Slam clinching win in Cardiff is the greatest thrill we will likely ever experience supporting the national team. For his part in that memorable season, we shall be forever grateful.

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