Friday afternoon in Monaghan RFC and all seems right with the world. The vibe is good and a rare weekend off base awaits.
The Scottish defeat has been cleansed by the bloodbath in Rome and Garry Ringrose and the rest of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad are done with the week’s training and mingling with the few thousand fans outside the local clubhouse.
The vibe is good and a rare weekend off base awaits.
Ringrose deals with the countless autograph and picture requests as easily as he did that yawning gap in the Italian defensive line for his try a week earlier.
Media duties are conducted flawlessly. It all seems a long way removed from the mess of that first-half in Murrayfield.
He described the prospect of making his first Six Nations appearance as “surreal” in the days beforehand but “spooked” was the phrase that Schmidt reached for when addressing the collective failure of his side in Edinburgh.
The young Leinster centre was just one link in a defensive chain that came loose far too often in that opening half but Schmidt’s observation about the pressure of the Six Nations possibly having some effect on the younger men isn’t fully endorsed.
“I noticed the difference. It is just a level up again from the autumn. Autumn was a test, it was new to me and then the Six Nations again had new elements to it. I wouldn’t say ‘spooked’ but it was an incredible experience.”
Lessons were learned. Schmidt said as much and Ringrose backed that up.
The Leinster centre was much more forceful and assured in his rush defence after the interval the first day and he shot out of the line with great effect in the 63-10 defeat of the Italians
France will be a different test of that growing certainty and maturity. And of Ireland’s collective ability to defend wide channels.
“They’ve got that flair, they can score from anywhere and they have the individuals to do that. So, certainly, any lapses in concentration and they’ll take full advantage of it. .”
up against some class midfielders on Saturday. “Remi Lamerat and Gael Fickou have been playing in the centre and they’re incredibly strong, good ball carriers, so that’s why you can’t get too focused on what’s outside and let them through the middle because they are so dangerous.”
Electric on the pitch, Rinrgose is all caution off it. He follows up talk of his first Six Nations try, against Italy, with a comment about dropping a high ball soon after.
Ringrose has found himself standing in at inside-centre with Ireland a lot more than has been the case with Leinster but, all told, he hasn’t noticed too many other differences to working alongside his clubmate Robbie Henshaw at Test level.
Should Jonathan Sexton and/or Rob Kearney fail to prove their fitness this week then Ringrose will find himself part of a callow back line, one directed around the park by the 21-times capped Paddy Jackson, but the Blackrock graduate is confident that inexperience is no issue.
“There’s leaders in the group and they’d have been leading from the front against Scotland anyway. It didn’t go our way but we could take confidence from the second-half and we know if we’re focused we can play good rugby.
"The coaches and leaders are driving that. We don’t feel like we need to change anything major just keep nailing the process and know your roles and the rest will sort itself out.”
It all sounds effortless. Making it look that way against the French is the next thing.
R Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (Captain), T Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), C Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), J Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster), I Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), D Leavy (UCD/Leinster), J McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), S O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), T O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), P O’Mahony (Cork Con/Munster), Q Roux (Galwegians/Connacht), D Ryan (Shannon/Munster), J Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster), N Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), D Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), J Tracy (UCD/Leinster)
T Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), A Conway (Munster), K Earls (Young Munster/Munster), C Gilroy (Bangor/Ulster), R Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster), P Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), R Kearney (UCD/Leinster), I Keatley (Young Munster/Munster), K Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), L Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), L McGrath (UCD/Leinster), C Murray (Garryowen/Munster), T O’Halloran (Buccaneers/Connacht), G Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), J Sexton (St Mary’s College/Leinster), A Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), S Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster)
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