Both the Ireland Men’s and Women’s games were similar in a lot of ways on the pitch, while the games were played under different circumstances. The men’s team were coming into this Six Nations after an extremely disappointing year, and under new management. Mistakes were to be expected, but the hope was that there would be some kind of plan. As for the women, they were 2 and a half years on from a disappointing World Cup, and the patience for being in a transitional period had worn off.
Despite these differences the matches were similar. Ireland did enough in both cases without setting the world on fire. On another day, or with another 10 minutes, Scotland could have won. But a win is a win is a win.
Starting with the men’s game, last week on the show we were hopeful there would be a semblance of an idea. And largely there was. Ireland tried a few new things. It was never going to work perfectly, and it didn’t. Had Stuart Hogg not made a horrendous blunder, or had Scotland been more clinical, we could all be a lot more pessimistic right now. There’s plenty to be positive about, nobody played badly. Sexton controlled the game well, CJ Stander was playing like somebody who was taking calls for him to be dropped personally. Josh Van Der Flier, as he always is, was everywhere.
There are generally two ways a new era starts, hit the ground running or slightly tentative. Sometimes the latter can be more rewarding in the long run. It takes time to build something, and we may not truly see this Ireland team perform exceptionally until the November series.
Ireland women got a win they desperately needed. It was a long time coming. The first 20 minutes were outstanding, and the girls in green built a lead. Then Scotland started to come back. If it wasn’t for an intercept try by Parsons, who looks a real prospect, we may have been set up for a long tournament.
Ireland will need to improve against Wales. But they are going in the right direction.
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