Just watched the final and am wondering why Joubert never penalised NZ even once for the constant feed into the scrums by the nr 9? In fairness to France they put the ball in straight every time. I suggested all along that referees would favour the ABs to ensure they won the competition at home. Didn’t see much evidence of favouratism until today. That element alone gave the ABs an unbelievable advantage in the scrums. Also Joubert gave 2 scrums to France in the 2nd half where penalties should have been the decision. He bottled. Definitely home decisions. Joubert should have got a winners medal. The ABs have a lot to thank him for. However the French are no shrinking violets and I can not understand why they didn’t challenge Joubert on his decisions.
On Ireland’s exit I blame primarily the hacks who got it totally wrong before the Welsh game. All of a sudden we were world beaters. We will always be a better team coming from behind and no doubt Declan Kidney would have been protecting the players from obtuse publicity. Nevertheless in the global village we live in it is impossible to shield players completely. Even though players would dismiss most of the journalists who wrote about their peformances as hacks jumping on the bandwagon. There are some commentators that players would respect. One such is Liam Toland who gave concise and accurate pre and post match analyses of each game up to the Friday before Ireland’s game v Wales. He got caught up in the euphoria of Ireland winning their group and wrote a dreadful article pitching player against player and got it all wrong. Not many hacks would appreciate defending a 5 metre scrum or line out as if your life depended on it, or being at tne bottom of a ruck where you would seldom find a more intimidatiing envronment, or or off a rugby pitch. It is precisely for this reason that Ireland’s players would respect Toland’s analysis and he let them down by building them up. Regardless of the fact that the players would be circumspect of such praise we are a nation who need to suffer to perform and comments from Toland were absorbed by osmosis by the Irish players without them even noticing. This drastically affected the players performance. We played rugby on the back-foot and made Wales look good because they were going forward. Toland would have lost games he should have won, and it has happend to us all at certain times. We all have had the feeling of helplessness against weaker opposition because we took to the field unprepared psychologically. Our rightful place at this tournament is right up to the last weekend. Not as finalists but as beaten semi-finalist and winning the 3rd place play-off. I thought this all along but the only one I confided in was the local bookmaker. Not to tempt fate we should always play down our ahievement. RWC 2011 was a massive opportunity lost for Irish rugby.
Our selection of players in certain cases also was off the mark. Paddy O’Dwyer in Blacrock had 2 mantras when it came to tight selections; 1- A good youngun is better than a good oldun and 2 – A good bigun is better than a good smallun. ROG was so emotonally charged after the Australia game that he made the comment about retireing, a sure sign of extreme pressure. Sexton should have played in the Quarter and Trimble should have played instead of Earls. Past tense now but we need to face our demons if we are to progress.
On a positive note having spent the most miserable rugby month of my life in France in September 2007 this performance by Ireland was a huge improvement. But unfortunately not enough for this talented group. What a pity it was to be reading L’Equipe this week and the only reference to an Irishman was Alain Rolland. Who, by the way made the absolute correct decision in sending Warburton off. The 3 weeks censure against the guilty party smacked of another bottle by the powers that be. Some commentators said it may have cost Alain Rolland a 2nd RWC final (Doubtful given the internal politics) but no doubt it gave Paddy O’Brien the opportunity not to select Rolland and thereby ensuring a win for his NZ countrymen!