• Home
  • /
  • Rugby
  • /
  • Who Were The Winners & Losers From Ireland's Six Nations Campaign?

Who Were The Winners & Losers From Ireland's Six Nations Campaign?

Who Were The Winners & Losers From Ireland's Six Nations Campaign?
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
Share this article

This past weekend brought to an end Ireland's disastrous 2019 Guinness Six Nations campaign, and things are not looking great at the moment. Only a few months after reaching its peak, we could well be at the lowest ebb of the Joe Schmidt era. With the World Cup on the horizon, the timing could not be much worse.

While the tournament was poor as a whole, some players walk away with their reputation enhanced. Others, less so. Who were the winners and losers from Ireland's Six Nations campaign?


Devin Toner

Toner can be a maligned figure at times, but his value was firmly established during the Six Nations campaign. Ireland's line-out simply does not function to a desirable level without him, and that is not anything new.

He was recalled to the starting XV for the test against New Zealand last November, after the set-piece failed Ireland badly in the previous game against Argentina. Without the Leinster man, it is unlikely that Ireland would have won that one.

After going down against England in the opening game, he was missed throughout the championship. James Ryan is a phenomenal player, but we seen in Cardiff that he may not be ready to call the plays at the line-out. Heading towards the World Cup, Toner now looks more assured of his place in the side than at previous point.

Jack Carty

The Connacht man finally made the international breakthrough in 2019, and you cannot argue that he doesn't deserve it. He has had an excellent season out West, and slotted in nicely during the limited playing time he seen in the Six Nations.

While Joey Carbery was unfortunate to miss out due to his injury, he will likely regain the backup role in the lead up to the World Cup. Carty looks to have firmly established himself as third choice, however, which could be key down the line, for reasons we will soon discuss.


Dan Leavy

Ireland's back row didn't function for the vast majority of the tournament. Sean O'Brien huffed and puffed but never really got going. CJ Stander was anonymous, if not actively bad, in the hammering in Cardiff, while Josh Van Der Flier never really got the chance to shine.

All that leaves the prospect of Dan Leavy coming into the team looking very attractive at the moment. The Leinster man was an ever-present during the Grand Slam campaign last year, and was missed badly over the past five games. Without playing a single minute, he looks to have cemented his place in the starting line-up going forward.


Sean Cronin


You can chalk this one down as a missed opportunity for Cronin. With Rory Best stepping away from the international scene after the World Cup, it was assumed that the Leinster hooker would be the one to step in and fill that void going forward. Such was his impact at provincial level, some were calling for increased playing time ahead of the autumn tournament.


Those notions suffered a major blow over the last few weeks. Given the opportunity to start against Italy, Cronin was abysmal. His feed into the line-out was wayward, while he displayed essentially none of the explosive ball carrying that he has made his name on in the past few years.

He subsequently missed out on the match day squads against both France and Wales, with Niall Scannell and Rob Herring moving ahead of him in the pecking order. All of a sudden, it looks as though he may not even make the plane to Japan.

Johnny Sexton

This was a really poor few weeks for Sexton. He was off the pace in the opener against England, before yet another injury against the Scots limited him to 20 minutes of action. Things hardly improved over the remaining tests, when only brief flashes against Italy and France were followed by a shocker in Wales.


Sexton cut a frustrated figure throughout the tournament. He looked a shell of the player he was in 2018, and the signs are not good. A player who takes a lot of punishment, he is soon to turn 34-years old. Could the years of big hits finally be catching up with him?

Sexton is the key cog in the Joe Schmidt machine, and that will not change ahead of the World Cup. But should this form continue, and Joey Carbery continues to thrive at Munster, some could start to ask questions about the out half position.

That would be an overreaction, but there are certainly a lot more questions about Sexton now than there was eight weeks ago.


Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt has overseen the most successful period in Irish rugby, winning three Six Nations and one Grand Slam in six years. They also defeated the All Blacks twice, and rose to second place in the world rankings. He is the likely the best coach Ireland has ever had.

And yet, this tournament has raised some doubts. Ireland have yet to win a game against a top nation in which they were trailing at half time, something that was a major problem against England and Wales. With a World Cup on the horizon, it is likely Ireland will have to claw back a deficit at some point if they advance deep into the tournament. That is something they don't look capable of doing at the moment.

Schmidt's meticulous planning and detailed game plan work well from the front, but there has been signs that Ireland struggle to adapt when they are being outplayed. That is something Schmidt must address in the coming months, or else run the risk of having his legacy tarnished by another meek showing at a World Cup.


SEE ALSO: Ireland Suffer World Rugby Rankings Drop On Back Of Welsh Defeat

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com