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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

'Understudies not quite up to the task' - the international media reaction to Ireland's loss

The Irish team were criticised following their comprehensive loss to Argentina.

Argentina's Juan Imhoff, right, races clear of Ireland's Rob Kearney to touch the ball down for a try.
Argentina's Juan Imhoff, right, races clear of Ireland's Rob Kearney to touch the ball down for a try.

THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA largely agreed that the better team went through in yesterday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Ireland and Argentina.

The Guardian suggested that Ireland’s key stars were missed amid a disappointing performance.

“How much did the absence of Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien and Jonathan Sexton affect their chances? Quite a lot, as it transpired, but it would be cruel to lay the blame for defeat on the shoulders of their replacements. They were outplayed at the start and the finish, coming to life only either side of half-time; that is no way to win a World Cup quarter-final.”

BBC Sport also pointed to missed opportunities when Ireland were dominant as being integral to the game’s outcome.

“With Rory Best becoming increasingly influential in the breakdown exchanges, Ireland at one point looked to have enough momentum — as well as vociferous support from the Irish fans inside the stadium — to go all the way into the last four.

“However, the Irish could not capitalise on two good chances in the third quarter — the first as intense pressure after 48 minutes failed to yield any points before Ian Madigan missed a long-range penalty chance which would have levelled the contest on 60 minutes.”

The Irish team were criticised individually and collectively by Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail.

“This time the understudies were not quite up to the task, with Ian Madigan unable to build on the fine display he produced when he came on as Sexton’s replacement a week earlier. He was certainly no match for Nicolas Sanchez, the architect of Argentina’s ambitious back play as well as the scorer of 23 points.

“If Madigan was at fault for allowing his nerves to get the better of him, he should not be left to carry the burden of responsibility alone.

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“Defensively Ireland’s backs were poor, and as a team they simply froze in an explosive opening quarter that saw Argentina twice cross the try line to surge into a commanding lead.”

The New Zealand Herald, meanwhile, suggested fatigue was a factor in Ireland’s loss.

“Many of Argentina’s top names have had two weeks of preparation for this match, after being rested for the final pool game, and their superior fitness told near the end. Tuculet and Imhoff burst through a tiring defense for converted tries that sent the Irish home early again.”

In addition, the Sydney Morning Herald focused on Ireland’s persistent inability to reach the World Cup’s last four, with Jamie Marcuson writing:

“Irish hearts were broken yet again as they continued their curse of never progressing from the quarter finals.”

Finally, writing in The Telegraph, Steve James had some positive words for the Irish performance, while also suggesting that Joe Schmidt’s side are ill-equipped to recover from substantial deficits.

“Replacement wing Luke Fitzgerald was inspirational, and forwards like Rory Best and Jamie Heaslip worked heroically to instigate the recovery, because Ireland are not the type of side that is really set up to chase a game, and so it took too much out of them.”

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Paul Fennessy

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