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'The ref said a few decisions went against us when they shouldn’t have'

Ireland were heavily penalised last weekend against England.

Referee Mathieu Raynal with Peter O'Mahony and Johnny Sexton.
Referee Mathieu Raynal with Peter O'Mahony and Johnny Sexton.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND NUMBER EIGHT Jack Conan says Ireland received official feedback that some of the penalty decisions that went against them in Twickenham last weekend were incorrect.

Andy Farrell’s side conceded 15 penalties, with six of them coming at the scrum as referee Mathieu Raynal rewarded the English pack.

Following his side’s bonus-point win in London, Farrell had indicated that Ireland would look for formal clarification on some of those set-piece decisions.

Speaking today, Conan explained that Ireland have since been told some of the penalty calls against them were wrong.

“There was a lot of talking points and lessons learned from the weekend,” said Conan.

“The referee has come back and said a few decisions went against us when they shouldn’t have, but that’s rugby and those things happen. It’s always a good learning curve and we’ll be better for it.

“I know the lads in the front row pride themselves around their bits in the scrum so they were pretty disheartened about it, but it will just make us better this weekend and I think they’re excited for the challenge and to right the few wrongs from Twickenham and end on a high.”

Ireland will be hoping to stay on the good side of referee Wayne Barnes in Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland in Dublin, where a win would see Farrell’s men claiming the Triple Crown for the first time since 2018.

There is still a possibility of Ireland winning the championship outright if France lose to England in Paris later that evening, but they just want to focus on their own job.

“We’ve done everything we can to get ourselves in position post-Paris [where Ireland lost] and at the moment, it’s all about trying to win this Triple Crown,” said Conan. “Whatever else happens, happens.

jack-conan-scores-their-third-try Jack Conan scoring against England. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“There’s nothing we can do about it at this stage. It’s about putting together the learnings we’ve had over the last six or seven weeks, trying to get the best performance that we can on the last day, and we feel like we’re evolving really nicely. There’s been a few frustrating patches over the last couple of weeks but we’re better for it.”

Scotland have opted for a surprise selection at out-half, with Blair Kinghorn starting at number 10 as Finn Russell drops to the bench.

Conan said Ireland will be looking to make Kinghorn uncomfortable, as they do with every out-half.

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“I know he hasn’t played a lot of international rugby at 10 but he’s played a good bit this season with Edinburgh and they are going particularly well in the URC,” said Conan. “I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to the challenge ahead of him.

“We haven’t spoken as a team about it yet because we’re only just back in together now, but it’s definitely an area we’ll go after no matter who is in that position because you always go to put pressure on the opposition 10 to make the play early, to show those pictures early in the game. I’m sure there’ll be lots of conversations about it over the next few days.”

The Irish players are hoping they can give the country something to cheer about on Saturday when the party atmosphere is likely to be in full flow after two days off for most people on this St Patrick’s Day long weekend.

The Ireland team haven’t been celebrating today, although Conan couldn’t resist a joke at some of his team-mates’ expense.

“I think a few of the country lads were out marching around the parade earlier on, Dave Kilcoyne was trying to get out on a float,” said Conan with a smile.

“No, the lads are thinking about prepping for the game and there hasn’t been anyone enjoying the spectacle.

“I think Conor Murray had his face painted walking up and down Grafton Street but other than that lads are a bit more worried about the game.”

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