Past the following sport, past even this Six Nations and the prospect of an Irish grand slam, there’s the World Cup. After Eire’s extraordinary 32-19 victory over France, Johnny Sexton lastly let slip that he’s been desirous about it, too, simply the identical as everybody else.
“If every little thing goes to plan, and we get by way of our group there’s a likelihood we’ll play France once more within the World Cup,” he mentioned. “So it was good to get that off our again, by way of beating them, as they had been the one workforce we hadn’t crushed.” France had received the previous three matches between them.
France and Eire, the 2 finest groups on the earth, will play one another within the quarter-finals of the event if one wins their group and the opposite finishes runner-up. Given the way in which they right here, it’s perhaps extra probably they meet within the closing.
“It was a top-end Check match, wasn’t it?” Sexton mentioned “That’s what everybody wished, and that’s what everybody bought. That first half, wow, it was simply end-to-end stuff.”
Sexton didn’t spend lengthy considering that far forward. Eire play Italy in a fortnight’s time. “We knew how huge this sport was by way of the championship, nevertheless it’s not value something if we let it slip within the subsequent sport,” he mentioned. “It’s been clear from the beginning what we need to obtain. We received a triple crown final yr and we mentioned we need to get higher this yr, properly, to get higher is to win the championship and a grand slam. The way you do that’s by concentrating on the following two weeks.”
Ever the perfectionist, he already had clear concepts about the place Eire want to enhance. “Immediately, we have to have a look at the possibilities we created. At half-time we spoke about how we solely had a 50% success price on the possibilities we had after we had been near their line. We had been held up a few instances, and we had alternatives to get the ball into area earlier on a few events too.
“So there’s lots to work on. There all the time is. You by no means stroll away from a sport considering ‘that was excellent’.” Andy Farrell agreed that his workforce “may have come away with just a few extra factors”.
As for France, they had been left questioning whether or not Eire had 5 greater than they should have had. James Lowe’s ft had been so shut to the touch when he scored their second attempt to French TV quickly discovered an angle the refereeing workforce appear to have missed, which advised that it ought to have been disallowed.
“What can I say?” mentioned the top coach, Fabien Galthié. “Within the second we may see that his foot was in contact. However we’ve to be honest, there was a linesman three metres from the motion. There have been photos, however they solely got here out when the trial was over.”
Galthié felt Eire “ought to have had 5 factors much less in the long run” however he didn’t blame the loss on them. He mentioned his workforce uncovered themselves by making an attempt to play an excessive amount of rugby in their very own half and spent a lot power doing it that they ran out of steam within the second half.
He was characteristically philosophical about all of it. “We got here right here to win. It’s a defeat. It’s true that it’s been two years since we misplaced a sport, we had been on a collection of 14 victories, and the collection is over,” he mentioned. “So we should additionally be taught to reside with defeat. We don’t like her on this workforce, she is just not a pal, however we must spend the night together with her.”