Ireland’s standing as a rugby nation has taken a tumble after the ignominious quarter-final exit at the hands of the All Blacks, with the New Zealand press declaring Joe Schmidt’s side “abysmal” and “embarrassing”.
Liam Napier writes in the New Zealand Herald that next week’s semi-final against England will prove “a significant step up” for the All Blacks. Expanding on Ireland’s no-show, Napier says that Ireland “dropped ball, kicked terribly to miss touch from penalties three times. They fell off tackles and made so many simple errors.
“Never has their limited gameplan been so brutally exposed. Never did they look capable of winning their first quarter-final, in their seventh attempt.”
Napier also examines how Steve Hansen dismantled Andy Farrell’s famed defensive set-up, writing that “(Farrell’s) green wall came crumbling down as the All Blacks skipped to the edge with consummate ease. Seven tries to two is embarrassing.”
In a rare moment of compassion for his compatriot, Napier notes that Joe Schmidt’s achievements with Ireland “are likely to be lost in the furore of another World Cup failure”.
The All Blacks reduced Ireland to “jumping at shadows and making errors with the rapidity of pints of Guinness being downed in Dublin watering holes on a Friday night,” according to Marc Hinton of Stuff.co.nz.
Highlighting the All Blacks’ dominance in every area, Hinton writes that Hansen’s side “won the physical battle up front hands down, the defensive duel by the length of the straight and were the only horse in the attacking race”.
Also on Stuff.co.nz, Richard Knowler suggests that the All Blacks “send Joe Schmidt a sympathy card after they destroyed Ireland’s World Cup campaign,” having not shown “the slightest bit of remorse as they walloped the Irish 46-14”.
Knowler writes that the All Blacks made Andy Farrell’s defensive plan “look like it had been organised over a few pints and a game of darts” in a ruthless dismantling of the Irish defence.
Schmidt will have to go into retirement,” Knowler says, “wondering if there was anything he could have done to avoid this embarrassment,” before adding that “Ireland never looked like winning this”.
Diagnosing Ireland’s issues, Knowler contends that emotion took over at 17-0 down, and that in such instances “players try too hard to make amends and the errors follow”.
The view from other corners of the globe makes for similarly difficult reading. Daniel Schofield of the Telegraph (UK) says that “New Zealand feasted on ireland’s mistakes like a shoal of starving piranhas...and there were a lot of mistakes,” while in The Guardian, Paul Rees says the All Blacks “left Ireland scattered all over the turf after ruthlessly battering them up front in an awesome display of power and precision”.