Joe Schmidt has refuted Rory Best’s suggestion that the Ireland head coach didn’t trust his players enough during the World Cup. And he says Best has since texted him to explain he spoke ‘inadvertently’.
Whatever about losing the World Cup final, English rugby had every right to be feeling good about itself and the future of the game after a successful tournament in Japan — until, of course, they found themselves with a PR nightmare on their hands with revelations about Saracens and their manipulation of the Premiership salary cap.
It was hard not to be moved by the scenes in Japan last weekend. A country beset by problems, economic and social, historic and contemporary, achieved what very few of their citizens thought possible at the beginning of 2019.
The rawness of a World Cup quarter-final in which Ireland failed to produce their best effort will live long with Johnny Sexton but the veteran fly-half insists there will be no blame game when the IRFU produces its review of a faltering 2019 campaign for Joe Schmidt’s team.
New Zealand hooker Dane Coles defended England’s ‘V-formation’ response to the All Blacks haka before the World Cup semi-final, joking that the RFU “earn a shitload of money so they’ll be able to pay the fine.”
Eddie Jones’ ability to deliver a one-liner — aside from his coaching ability — means he will always attract the headlines, but with England 80 minutes away from World Cup glory, it is the work of defence coach John Mitchell whichis one of the most important aspects of the Red Rose’s success.
Munster may be without out-half Joey Carbery for the opening two rounds of the Champions Cup against Ospreys and Racing 92. Defence coach JP Ferreira said the priority was to get him and all the Irish internationals right for the season on their return from the World Cup.
Long tours can be challenging, especially when things don’t go to plan on the field of play. That’s why so many of the large Irish support base that headed to Japan are feeling a little underwhelmed at the moment.
With the cream having risen to the top and the four best sides left standing in the tournament providing two contrasting semi-final shootouts, we are left, with a potentially explosive final with rugby north and south of the equator set for a fascinating head to head.
This World Cup serves to remind us that previous form or results counts for little. The fact that Ireland had won two of their previous encounters against New Zealand only handed Steve Hansen and his coaching staff a template to beat us when it mattered most.
That Ireland could lose a World Cup quarter-final to the All Blacks is not a major shock in itself. New Zealand just have better cattle, as I said in last week’s column. However, the manner of the loss, even at a remove now of five days, was utterly shocking.