Ireland fell to a 30-9 defeat to England today in a deflating performance at Twickenham.
Deflating was definitely the theme of the day for the Irish as the team never looked motivated to really grab this game by it's neck. Unlike the physicality and decisiveness that the team showed in France two weeks ago, Ireland never looked up for this game.
England started out the better side and had the game wrapped up by the sixtieth minute.
Ireland were heavily beaten and never really looked like competing. It was a mental issue as a young English group of players who were determined to not only prove themselves at this stage, but also win the heavy competition within the squad, showed the desire and passion required to win rugby games.
On the other hand, Ireland showed a lack of leadership, no confidence and approached the game with a defeatist attitude. Fortunately, this performance came at a time when it can, to an extent, be excused.
This game decided the second place finisher in the Six Nations, not the winner. Nobody cares who came second, you either win it all, or win nothing. In fact, at times, unless you win a GrandSlam the title can even be devalued.
That is not to excuse Ireland's performances today, or for the majority of the tournament, but it does put it into perspective.
Ireland won seven of the previous eight encounters against the English while they entered today without both Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll who are obviously vital for leadership. Furthermore, because of the conditions, very little rugby was actually played today.
On a wet day in Twickenham, Ireland's scrum suffered at the hands of the English pack. The loss of Mike Ross early on didn't help as he is the team's best scrummage. Tom Court was blatantly out of his depth when he came on the field.
Considering the circumstances, Ireland lost their best prop forward, the position with the least depth of any in the whole squad, also the position which was the most valuable on a day like today.
England deserve a lot of credit for the victory, but this result is not a decisive one. This result does not represent the state of Irish rugby. It does represent a disappointing campaign that was never truly expected to be a record setting one.
After the close opening day loss to Wales, Ireland had a sense of just getting these games out of the way ahead of the resumption of the Heineken Cup.
In a sense, today's game bringing the tournament to a close with such a whimper was fitting...still disappointing, but fitting.
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