How Namibia “claimed the cleaver and went for the butcher.”

An average (and a lucky one) performance from Ireland, and some are talking of a team that may have peaked a season or two too early. Fear of God has some telling stats from the match. ‘Territory: Ireland 41% Namibia 59%‘. And, more tellingly: ‘Errors: Ireland 18 Namibia 8‘. Richard Hookham only rates O’Driscoll, Trimble, Horan, Easterby, Stringer and Leamy above 5. Biggest disappointments: Paul O’Connell’s lack of authority and a no show from David Wallace. Ronan O’Gara also had one his unconscionably bad days. The usually superlative Hickie looked like he was contemplating his early pension, and the whole back line looked confused and out of sorts. Gerry Thornley quotes Eddie O’Sullivan:

“It was pretty much like watching a horror movie at times. The performance was very, very poor. I expected us to be a little bit edgy in the first 20 minutes but we actually got a few scores on the board and got worse as the game wore on. We made an awful lot of errors and overall it was a very very disappointing performance,” said O’Sullivan, who admitted he struggled to remember a worse one: “If we play like that against Georgia, we won’t get a result.”

“It was a really awful display,” conceded Brian O’Driscoll, who made light of the strap on his shoulder holding in a nerve injury that it is hoped will clear up this morning. “It started badly, and it got worse as the game wore on. No excuses. It’s like a defeated dressing-room. A massive, massive disappointment and a huge, huge amount to improve on.”

And the pessimists are out in force:

Ireland’s PR team will spin furiously, but there is nowhere to hide. It is, as the foreign legion put it, march or die. This team must put up or shut up. Sadly, it is beyond them.

An Spailpín Fánach may have the last and most appropriate word:

Namibia went into that game last night as lambs to the slaughter; instead of offering their necks, they claimed the cleaver and went for the butcher. Good for them – honour and glory have been legislated more or less out of the modern game of rugby, but Namibia showed that maybe the ancient virtues still have some role in William Webb Ellis’ game.

And on that strident Corinthian note, perhaps it’s time to resort to the words of Gladstone:

“No team man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes”

The question is, have we got the time to learn from our early mistakes. Right now, even the chance to play an ominous All Black team would be a fine thing.

  • Token Dissent

    What are fellow Sluggerites’ opinions on Neil Best? Every time he comes on he offers a massive boast to the team – high energy, with a streak of madness. Is he unlucky not to be in the first fifteen?

  • nmc

    The danger illustrated by Ireland’s narrow victory is that trying to predict how any game or tournament will turn out is a big money business, and not easy to do.

    A lot of people, myself included thought of the Namibia game as a walk in the park, dust off the cobwebs kind of game, and a lot of people were wrong.

    Cue a mad scramble of people making new predictions factoring in the truly shite performance last night. My bottom line, you just never know. Last night will have served as a kick in the ass to a talented team, what the effect has been is still to be seen.

    People mentioned Ireland peaking too early, however too early might have been the first game of this world cup. If each performance is an improvement, (and it should be), we can still make our mark.

    Please God, no injuries for our lads, and we’re still very much in contention.

    PS All of the above is obviously tainted with bias and optimism in the face of reality, but there’s some sense in there somewhere. Bound to be.

  • darth rumsfeld

    As we know from the Humphreys-O’Gara scenario, O’Sullivan is just not interested in Ulstermen (a constant IRFU trait) and would have ignored Jonah Lomu if he’d been from Dungannon. Boss for Stringer is another no brainer after a series of drab performances from the bald one. All academic though- they’re on the plane home at the end of the group stages.

    Perhaps someone will then be held to account for the ludicrous extension to O’Sullivan’s contract last month

  • darth, 8 players in the Irish Squad are from Ulster and 3 from Ballymena.

    on thread, just nothing connected, they were too hyped up, when you’re not relaxed and in synch, nothing works for you at all.
    You need that “zen-like” focus giving you a higher awareness, so you’re surfing the highs and lows; most of all you have to enjoy it. Panic and expectation erodes all that skill.
    Ireland will get it right, but so will France, so that game will be a cracker.
    Hope Eddie reads slugger 😉

  • was Flannery’s try payback by Jutge for his perception of van Zyl’s? Obviously Flannery’s was a clearcut error but the fact is that van Zyl did not look to me in the replays I saw to have had control of the ball before it touched the ground. Maybe the video ref had a better angle the TV didn’t.

    That said, I think Gallagher in the Telegraph was being charitable about the penalty try – Namibia were conceding penalty after penalty and that put a stop to it. Ironically, the switch in tactics from gamesmanship to playing honest rugby was when Namibia came into their own and Ireland had little answer for it.

  • Skintown Lad

    worst ireland display in 10 years. it really is weird how a great team, that smashed england so convincingly, could crumble so pathetically

  • Skintown Lad

    eddie should have brought on carney and best earlier and i hope stringer gets a slap for that ridiculous pass that almost got intercepted and was forward anyway. that sort of thing is murphy’s speciality

  • IJP

    it really is weird how a great team, that smashed england so convincingly,

    Nah, we’re forgetting the English are pretty useless too. It doesn’t take a “great team” to beat them.

  • Lads, we peaked last November and have been slowly going backwards since; the 6 Nations marked a step back and the Summer tour series was very poor indeed. Sad to see probably the most talented Irish team in my lifetime go down the tubes and I’m still hoping they could pull it out of the tubes, but I’ve actually been quite down on them since June.

    As we know from the Humphreys-O’Gara scenario, O’Sullivan is just not interested in Ulstermen (a constant IRFU trait) and would have ignored Jonah Lomu if he’d been from Dungannon.

    No, Best had his first team place in the bag, lost it through a silly injury and some fairly atrocious form for Ulster. Easterby got it back through a couple of magnificent displays of nasty, vicious, spoiling in broken play at the start of the 6 Nations, especially against Wales. I wasn’t traditionally a member of the Simon Easterby fan club but have had to eat my words. To defend O’Sullivan, he seems to see himself as having two world-class blindsides that are good at different things, which is probably true.

    Boss for Stringer is another no brainer after a series of drab performances from the bald one.

    No, Boss had his chance, did some good things but also made a few schoolboy errors and doesn’t gel with O’Gara they way the admittedly pedestrian and overrated Stringer does. Isaac’s pass is less than ideally fast at this level and he telegraphs what he’s going to do too much. A good international back row would murder him. Sorry.

  • páid

    Well, one positive is when Laporte calls up his video analyst and says ‘Show me a few moves Ireland do well, so we can counter’ it’ll make for a short meeting.

    And it’s potentially a long tournament. I’ve heard it said more than once that at least we haven’t peaked too soon.

    That would be twice.

  • Michael Robinson

    Just back from Bordeaux… my phone and Orange 3G didn’t get along so prevented my attempt at live blogging from the stadium!

    I got the impression that a good proportion of the Ireland fans were there for a party and a holiday rather than as supporters… Mexican waves 5 minutes into the game? For fecks sake…

    The French got behind the underdogs and easily outshouted the Irish with their allez les bleues The Irish support was half-hearted in comparison… bit like the team, really.

    Despite the game, it was an enjoyable couple of days… there’s more to life than rugby and sitting in a beautiful square with the sun on your back and a bottle of the local produce goes some way to compensate for the dire fare on the pitch.

    Doing it all again next weekend…

  • Tom Lee

    I will be with you watching Ireland play France (in fact I am kind of the reason you are going to the game), but as an Englishman who had pinned his hopes on Ireland to provide a home nation victory this World Cup I was sorely disappointed. However, Ireland unlike England, have a team that can play fantastic Rugby. Ever an optimist I now look forward to seeing Ireland play their socks off. Every team can have a hiccup and if that was Irelands than least it didn’t cost them. Look forward to seeing you in Paris…

  • Dewi

    In Brum with a colleague – watched georgia v argies – astonishing performance and such an un fortunate end – what this means is that Ireland have to play first team in every game from now on….France Ireland now building up to be the biggest game of century (only just started mind !!!)