Monday, September 10, 2007

Rugby Union World Cup -Impressions

Ireland's performance against Namibia has been labelled a horror show and a shambles. These descriptions are probably too mild.

A full time professional Irish side struggled to defeat a Namibian side with just six professionals in its ranks. The 32-17 scoreline flattered Ireland. Jerry Flannery scored a late controversial try. The decision to award the try was incorrect. The Irish forwards fared badly. This does not augur well for the games against Argentina and France. Irelands back play is too stereotyped and lacking in originality. It is too easy to defend against. Nick Mallett and Alan Solomons and Robbie Kempson played a role in the coaching of the Africans. This performance will improve their career prospects.

Many of the Namibian players will use the World Cup to showcase their talents. Essentially they are hungry for contracts in Europe. The Irish players appear to lack hunger and some may be more concerned with avoiding injury. European Cup rugby is now their bread and butter. Club may be more important than country.

The lack of competition for places is probably a contributory factor. I dislike the conservative approach of Eddie O'Sullivan.
England's performance against the USA was unconvincing. Brian Ashton has inherited a mess. English club rugby may be strong but its strength is increasingly dependent upon an influx of players from the Southern Hemisphere.
Home grown talent is neglected. A similar position is developing in France. The situation will deteriorate further with a new influx of New Zealand and South African players post the World Cup. This will impinge strongly on the strength of International sides.

It is time to limit the number of foreign imports to two per club. This would aid the development of indigenous talent and help maintain the strength of European International sides.

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