Congratulations to Ireland!
In one of the toughest and most interesting Six Nations ever, Ireland have triumphed with a week to go. Inspiring wins against Scotland and Wales showed the sheer class of this Irish team. Hard and tough wins like versus France showed the determination they have. Ireland have also proved they can score tries for fun in almost every game, especially versus the Italians. This tournament Ireland have proved any critics wrong. Players supposedly past their best have proven their worth, Rob Kearney became Man Of The Match versus Scotland for instance. Young players have proven their talent, the likes of the Six Nations top try scorer this year, Jacob Stockdale.
Depth and Development
Joe Schmidt has proved that his team can and will win. Even without Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Simon Zebo this team has flourished.
Looking forward to 2019 the future looks bright for the Irish. The likes of Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Porter and James Ryan have proven that Ireland have the depth to go far in major tournaments.
Irelands young guns have come out firing all tournament. Jacob Stockdale has scored an immense 6 tries so far. That’s a colossal, unbelievable 1.5 tries per game. He has been the breakthrough player of this tournament and has been one of the standout players of this tournament. Only 21 he has huge potential going forward. By the World Cup, he’ll have a decent amount of caps and experience so he’ll be an even larger threat. Do not be surprised to find Stockdale in a team of the year soon, the young Ulster winger could be the next big star for the emerald isle.
The second row is becoming a real area of strength for the Irish. Tadgh Beirne, Iain Henderson and Devin Toner are all major players in the second row. Add to that list James Ryan. The young Leinster lad is 6ft 8in tall so can be colossal in the lineout and maul. With 108kg to throw around, Ryan can be destructive in the ruck and scrum as well as open play. Hopefully, in Japan, the young lock will be just as amazing and destructive and the teams in Ireland’s pool, and most likely the later stages, need to look out for Ryan.
Before the Six Nations if someone told you Tadgh Furlong would be injured the Irish would be devastated. Step up Andrew Porter, the Leinster man proved his worth this year. An able replacement to Furlong 22-year-old Porter stepped up when needed. Playing 73 minutes versus Italy showing his stamina and his class on the field. A bright future is ahead for Porter and hopefully, he can do the job for Ireland for many years to come.
Towards the World Cup
Looking towards Japan and the World Cup Ireland will be hoping to go further than the quarters for the first time ever. A deep and rich history for rugby it is surprising that Ireland have never reached a semi-final. Joe Schmidt will be hoping he can coach this team to glory, and the Irish public will be hoping this team can get the wins they crave.
The depth shown by Ireland can only be good and will be extremely helpful come the World Cup when injuries can ruin a teams chances. So young players gaining experience will help Ireland hopefully go far.
Not only the depth but also the increased belief and courage they’ll have as they are now on an 11 game unbeaten run going back to their defeat versus Wales last year. This increased belief in their ability will help when they need to dig deep in hard games but also when they need the courage to try new things and new moves. They also have the personnel to change their game based on the opposition and how they want to play. For instance, in the centres, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Chris Farell and Garry Ringrose have all given Schmidt the trouble of which one of them to pick. They all offer different things which is what Schmidt will want and need when he comes us against the likes of the All Blacks. Do they offer something that will help with changing centre play.
This ability to switch players in and out is useful for many reasons. It allows you to rotate and keep players fresh and firing when faced with a tough run of games. So injuries affect your team less. So you can change your tactics and game plans so the opposition doesn’t know whats coming.
Joe Schmidt’s tactics are detailed and in-depth, this depth, as well as the development of many players, will help them understand the tactics and improve them. The detail of his tactics is outlined here in a fine article by Conor Wilson. James Ryan and Andrew Porter can give an edge at the set piece. Stockdale, as well as the many great centres, will help Ireland execute the moves shown here.
A tactical genius like Schmidt with a brilliant team like Ireland could beat anyone. Ireland have proven they can beat the best when the took the All Blacks scalp in Chicago. So now the next challenge for this Irish team is the World Cup. Japan and later France will be big tournaments for a team with big dreams like Ireland. Only time will tell if Ireland can succeed at the World Cup.
Thanks for reading! Do you think Ireland will complete the Grand Slam? How far do you expect Ireland to go at the World Cup? Which young talent are you most excited for?
Author: Ollie Evans
I’m from South Wales and have grown up with rugby all around me and the Millenium Stadium on my doorstep. A massive fan of all things rugby, but never been particularly good despite having played since I was 6.