Having effectively been swept under the carpet since the conception of the professional game, the theme of concussion is beginning to appear more frequently in rugby headlines. Although it has been a problem for a long time, its effects and the frequency with which players suffer from its symptoms have only come under the spotlight in recent months.
The final weekend of the Six Nations has certainly left a bitter taste in every Irish supporter’s mouth, especially on a day like St. Patrick’s. It has been a season of missed chances and bad timing. A penalty given away in the dying moments against the Welsh, and two line-out mis-throws within fifteen metres of the French line late in the game, led to a loss and a draw against the ‘big’ teams in the tournament. If the English match had been a win or at least a tight game, the prevailing attitude would no doubt have been one of mild encouragement in building towards the New Zealand summer tour. Unfortunately that was not the case and ‘Eddie O’ Sullivan Syndrome’ has once again become the biggest obstacle towards seeing whether our country’s best in form players can compete internationally. As sacrilegious as it would have been to mention it last season when Seán O’Brien was running over defence’s singlehandedly, no one should be immune from being dropped if they are no longer the best player in their position. More so for Gordon D’Arcy, a man who has not stood out in an Ireland jersey for at least a season and is finally showing his lack of size when O’ Driscoll isn’t standing outside him.
Sport can so often be cruel but few could argue that Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty in the dying minutes at the Aviva Stadium yesterday didn’t bring about the right result. The Welsh demonstrated a similar dominance that brought an end to Ireland’s World Cup dreams back in Wellington, and it begs the question whether Declan Kidney will ever accept the failings within the Irish system and attempt to bring about change?
It was a credit to Ireland’s heart and determination that for long periods an unlikely win was very much in their own hands. A ‘w’, however, would have masked the shortcomings that this team has displayed for far too long. Once again it seems that this Irish side is harder to get off than get on.
The intensity felt as the final came to a close was present before it began, as the French team formed a V shape and marched forward together to face off metres from the All Blacks mid-haka. The crowd counted down from ten, the bullfight fanfare sounded, ball kicked high up in the air, crowd roared. The last leg of a long six weeks was underway for these teams.
Early on Yachvili kicked the ball out on the full, New Zealand’s lineout misjudged and France regained possession. This was not the last time the French pack would turn an All Black lineout. However this was one of the two areas France showed consistency, the other being conceding penalties, giving away two in the first five minutes. They managed to get off lightly enough with Weepu sending his first attempt wide.
Match Report Of The Rugby World Cup Third Place Play Off Between Wales and Australia.
Welsh hopes for a good start to this third place play off did not survive very long after the starting whistle. The intensity that Australia showed at the beginning of and applied throughout the match had the lack lustre Welshmen on the back foot from the get go. O’Connor showing himself in the opening minutes with a good run, Quade Cooper however damaged his own team’s advancement with a knock on ten metres from the opposition’s try line.