IRELAND HEAD COACH Philip Doyle paid tribute to England’s ability following their commanding 40-7 World Cup semi-final victory, but admitted to abject disappointment at his own team’s display.
England scored five tries to one at Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, overcoming a promising Irish start to gain control of the tie and deny Ireland any sustained possession or territory.
“It was a complete lack of performance from our side,” said Doyle immediately after the game. “I think we could have applied ourselves an awful lot better in that game. We’re bitterly disappointed. I think we made England look good.
Obviously, they are very good, an exceptional side, but I thought we completely played within ourselves and we’re bitterly disappointed.”
This was Ireland’s first-ever World Cup semi-final and when questioned about his side’s relative lack of experience against an England outfit that played in the 2010 World Cup final, Doyle conceded that it “possibly” had played a role.
“We’re going to have to go back and look at ourselves. Possibly… it was our first ever World Cup semi-final. England obviously have been trying to win this for a number of years now.
“They have all this experience, yeah possibly. They really turned it on and credit to them. I genuinely hope they go on and win it.”
Of most hurt for Doyle in defeat was Ireland’s passive defence, which allowed powerful English ball carriers like Rochelle Clark to do damage in the tight, before others such as the astonishingly effective Emily Scarratt excelled out wide.
“We pride ourselves on our defence and it just didn’t work today,” said Doyle. “Our fringe defence was way too passive. They were trying to attack down our nine channel. We identified that they were trying to come down our nine channel and then take us out wide.
“Our fringe just wasn’t closing down that space quick enough and we were way too passive in our line speed. Also in the tackle area, it was a soak tackle and they were able to run on.
It’s something that we’re really going to have to look at because the Canadians and French are massive ball carriers. It’s an area we’re going to have to really, really train hard on.”
Ireland must now turn their attention to a 3rd/4th place play-off against the losers of the France v Canada semi-final on Sunday, a task for which Doyle has no doubt his side will be motivated.
“The girls are fantastic athletes and they’ll get back to the drawing board tomorrow. They’ll pick themselves up and dust themselves off. I’ve no doubt about it, and we will give a performance in that 3rd/4th place play-off.”