Wales captain Sam Warburton and coach Warren Gatland reflect on a 26-3 loss. INPHO/Colm O'Neill
Hands Up

Ireland loss the most disappointing of my Wales tenure, admits Gatland

The New Zealander had few complaints after his team were out-gunned at Lansdowne Road.


So began Warren Gatland’s first and only press briefing on his trip to Ireland. The Wales coach lamented the penalties his team conceded in their 26-3 humbling and spoke about Ireland playing with more emotion but was not about to make any more excuses than necessary.

“We were well beaten by a better team today,” he said. “No excuses. A very disappointing performance from us and I take my hat off to Ireland. They played exceptionally well and, at the end of the day, they dominated us up front and that was the difference between the two teams. I thought they mauled very well, competed hard at the breakdown and made it difficult.”

Gatland declared his team had worked hard on their lineout defence all week but it was obviously not hard enough as Paul O’Connell and Davin Toner plucked Rory Best throws and orchestrated rolling mauls that toyed with the Welshmen.

The New Zealander added, “It’s probably the most disappointing performances I’ve been involved in since I’ve been the Welsh coach. But that sometimes happens; a bad day at the office. That is taking nothing away from Ireland’s performance because it was outstanding. The challenge for us is how you bounce back because that is where you show character.”

Gatland remarked that Ireland ‘kicked the leather’ off the ball and played a lot of one-pass rugby. He admitted that the tactics of opposite number Joe Schmidt possibly surprised him. “It was effective,”he mused. “I can’t remember any occasion where they moved the ball through the backline to try and attack. Like I said, they dominated up front and we have to take it on the chin.”

The next query from the huddled media raised a Gatland eyebrow and a glib response. Asked if it the 26-3 loss was the worst in his eight-season term with Wales, the Kiwi replied, “I think I’ve already said that… probably. Sports a funny thing, you get performances sometimes but the challenge is for up to regroup.”

imageJoe Schmidt and Warren Gatland have a pre-match chortle. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Wales face France, who will hope to be 100% after facing Italy tomorrow, at the Millennium Stadium next time out. Gatland admitted he will be forced to choose between bringing in fresh blood or trusting in the players that looked flat against Italy and were flattened today.

Wales captain Sam Warburton was impressed with Ireland’s intensity but said, having watched their close call against New Zealand, was not taken aback by the ferocity he faced in Dublin. Warburton said, “It was similar to to what we experienced in the first half last year [in the Six Nations] but they maintained that for 80 minutes.”

Before he departed the rolling cameras and multiple dictaphones, Gatland said he was pleased with the welcome he received from Irish fans over the past two days since Wales touched down in Dublin. “I’ve said, before coming here, that the Irish crowds are the most respectful in the world — the way that they respect the kicker when he is taking a shot at goal or the last couple of days and the respect shown to myself and the team.

“Everywhere I’ve gone, people have said good luck and enjoy the match. So, it hasn’t been the public that has been trying to drum up controversy.”

Wonder what he means?

As it happened: Ireland v Wales, Six Nations

Out of 10: How Ireland rated in today’s Six Nations clash with Wales

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