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'It was a missed opportunity. It's a result that will nag at the Ireland players'

The latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra saw the lads dig into events in Paris.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT SEEMS THAT France out-half Romain Ntamack isn’t too worried about rubbing salt in the wound.

Fresh from starring in his side’s win over Ireland on Saturday night in Paris, the 21-year-old underlined how much of a threat his team-mates like Antoine Dupont, Virimi Vakatawa and Gaël Fickout had posed.

“When Antoine, Virimi and Gaël had the ball, we could feel the panic in the Irish defence,” Ntamack told Midi Olympique.

“It’s nice to see the fear on the Irish faces against French players.”

However, Ntamack’s viewpoint was given short thrift on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – an analysis podcast with professional coach and analyst Eoin Toolan that is available to members of The42 every Monday.

Eoin’s belief is that Ireland’s own shortcomings were as decisive as anything in Saturday night’s game and that costly mistakes made a big difference, rather than viewing it as Ireland being overpowered and scared of certain French players. 

“There were clearly individual errors that get punished at international level and that’s the harsh reality of rugby at the highest level,” said Eoin of Ireland’s loss. “The basic errors that we saw from some individuals are really, really costly.

“Whether that’s skill levels or mental application, it’s difficult to make that assessment.

“There was definitely a sense as the game was getting away from Ireland in that third quarter of the game that they seemed to compound errors, whether it was individual or unit.

“The lineout struggled, there were a couple of first-phase turnovers as well, and maybe there was a little bit of a leadership vacuum but obviously Ireland have had a number of hugely-experienced players retiring in the last two to three years and it takes a little bit of time to build those leadership positions.

“Look at the back row, where Caelan Doris and Will Connors have five or six caps between them, Porter obviously only has a couple of starts at tighthead, so it’s not as if it’s a battle-hardened, experienced Test pack going into the game.

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robbie-henshaw-dejected-after-the-game Ireland came up short in Paris. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“You could counter that by saying France are in a similar-ish position but they’ve been building those combinations for the last 18 months. 

“I think the comments from Ntamack are probably a little over the top. It’s a funny assertion because most of France’s momentum came from their kicking game rather than their carrying game, I thought.

“Ireland defended them well from structured possession but were probably outdone by their kick chase, which obviously cost them that crucial try early in the first half.”

Ireland had a shot at the Six Nations title in Paris on Saturday and Eoin believes the nature of their defeat will be hard for Andy Farrell’s players to shake off.

“It was a missed opportunity. We thought it might take a bigger winning margin initially but they knew that a six-point win with one try would give them a championship.

“I thought there were positive signs in the first-half showing from Ireland, they played a pretty smart game but it was frustrating how they fell away in the second half and gifted France a couple of scores which, especially in France, you can’t afford to do.

“It’s a result that will nag at the players for a little while because championships don’t come along all that often, historically, for Ireland. 

“There will be a huge sense of frustration and a sense of ‘what if.’”

 On today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, Eoin and Murray Kinsella broke down the key moments in the game, discussing Ireland’s decision to go to the corner just before half-time, how the French cut them open, Johnny Sexton’s show of frustration, and Jacob Stockdale’s display at fullback.

They also discussed England winning the title, the All Blacks’ hammering of the Wallabies, and Munster’s latest encouraging performance. 

You can sign up as a member of The42 here in order to listen to the extra rugby podcasts and a wide range of other shows on sportswriting, football, GAA, and coaching, as well as getting weekly newsletters and access to our lively member-only Whatsapp groups.

Originally published at 14.55

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