This week we will focus mainly on waste, inconsistency, qualifying for the Rugby World Cup and the narrow strip of space between rock and anvil where Rugby is now…
Italy’s misfortune hides Ireland’s neglect
There will be a more detailed reflection on the Italian masquerade soon, but there should be some Irish players who are relieved they are no longer in the spotlight. At the start of the game, right after the red card which saw Italy drop to 13, with Italy relegating to four full-backs and a half nets and facing five yards on the more difficult side to defend on the field, Ireland still couldn’t create an overlay.
This, from the team that tore Wells three weeks ago with a ruthless vanguard that even viewers admitted to buying models for sale on occasion.
“Here we go again” said one Irish fan during the match (seen in the pub, where everyone is always honest). “We peaked very early. We’ll never be as good as we were against Wales now.”
A joke, no doubt, but the sentiment was unmistakable. Ireland failed to replicate their form in Wales’ match against France, and also failed to discover the severity that led to this impressive downfall. The Irish team in their day had a three-digit lead over Italy, but accuracy, sharpness and decisiveness were largely absent on Sunday.
Andy Farrell spoke of inaccuracies after the match, as well as facing a “suicidal defense with nothing to lose and Ireland’s skills under pressure” and Italy putting up a superb grip against all odds, but Ireland’s response against England must be swift.
Both sides of Wales
Welsh fans who shivered from their side’s horrific performance against Ireland must have been afraid of a rematch at Twickenham in the first half. Two zeros in six halves of rugby don’t paint a healthy picture.
However, the recovery in the second half revealed two things: First, Wales looks very physically fit. They definitely lasted longer than England, who would have lost had there been five more minutes.
Secondly, this Welsh side can play well. It wasn’t easy against Ireland, and especially against Scotland, but the second half at Twickenham would have delighted all the Wales who feared the worst three weeks ago.
Wayne Pivac’s stated goal, and his trademark, is to create teams with speed, deception and flexibility, as evidenced by the Scarlets team that propelled him to the national role. The next challenge for this Welsh team is to do it for 80 minutes instead of flashes.
But if this team manages to combine the second half of this match against England with a kind of solid show at home against Scotland, then a possible fourth game of the Grand Slam in France could prove more upsetting than some realize.
Repercussions of Russia’s exit from the World Cup
Meanwhile, under the Six Nations, there is a problem brewing in the Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Suspending Russia from membership in the Rugby World Championships, and thus the World Cup, is the right thing to do, but the Russians still have three qualifying matches to play, in addition to denying Georgia an extra point and defeating Romania last year. . There is no difference in the fortunes of Russia. They were almost eliminated.
For Georgia, it probably won’t matter unless something goes wrong, but Romania, who were swept away by Spain at the weekend and have yet to face Georgia, could reclaim those points. It was only natural that Portugal would face Russia before the end of the qualifiers, while the Spain-Portugal match in two weeks is shaping up to be an all-or-nothing final.
There is an urgent need to clarify what is happening in the schedule with these Russia matches that have been played and not yet played. At the moment, the table reads: 1. Georgia P7, 31 points, 2. Spain P8, 25, 3. Romania P8, 22, 4. Portugal P8, 21.
But assuming each team gets an unsurprising bonus point for their matches against Russia, both retrospectively and a priori, the table reads: Georgia P8, 36 (qualified), 2. Romania P8, 27, 3. Portugal, P9, 27, 4 Spain P8, 26 .
The two best teams qualify, and the third goes to the playoffs. On the weekend, March 12, Romania hosts Georgia, and Portugal is in Madrid.
Rugby rules have never looked so stupid
If there’s ever been an episode that illustrated how rugby struggles to deal with the stress of concussion and the accumulation of well-trained mammoths in scrum, it’s Italy’s disaster.
The text of the law was enforced and as a result the team was left with 13 men after an ill-timed intervention and another injury at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the day before at Twickenham, anyone with medical clearance seemed to be looking away as Thomas Francis returned to battle. The only argument that could be made in his favor was that judgment often took so long for the installation of dental cysts that Francis had plenty of time to recover from a concussion.
The focus on the safety of players, especially in the first row, means that Italy is falling behind in a terrible bureaucratic situation. But safety first, most of the time anyway.
However, rugby also needs to win over audiences, and the spectacle of a stronger team defeating a weaker team still weak by the same bureaucracy was very difficult as a spectacle promoting the sport. Imagine what would happen in a similar situation in the next World Cup if, say, 13 Uruguayan players for an hour against South Africa.
Not that there is an obvious solution, but that is the difficult situation rugby finds itself in now, caught between the need to entertain fans and enough safety for young children to continue playing. It is not desirable.
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