David Wallace, Ireland’s try-scorer against France in the defending Grand Slam winners’ humbling 33-10 weekend defeat, was frank in admitting that the hosts deserved their win.
There was no hint of joy or celebration in the voice of the Munster and Lions open side as he described his touch-down.
“It came off phase play. I think the ball was going to come out the backs so I think I just ran a hard line and Drico (Brian O’Driscoll) ran by me,” Wallace said.
“The ball went to him, he passed it — I can’t remember who made the break — it came back to Brian and it was nice to be on the end of it.”
There was no smile and no display of pleasure or satisfaction, the flanker’s demeanour confirming that he did not regard his try as being any sort of consolation, coming as it did when Ireland trailed by 24 points in a match which was already far beyond redemption.
He admitted that it had been very hard mentally as well as physically.
“A very tough day. The scoreboard was hard to read,” he said. “And it was a physical game.
“There were a lot of positives, but a lot of negatives as well, at crucial times.”
Wallace was sporting in his recognition of the victors’ entitlement to their success.
“Credit to them, they did very well for their tries and they kept the scoreboard ticking over, getting their drop goals, so it was just one of those days.
“We made a lot of errors,” he added.
The Munster man, famed for his aggression and self-sacrificial style of play, confirmed the physicality of the French and the problems that had posed.
“They’d a lot of shooters and I think we probably needed to play it slightly differently,” Wallace admitted.
“They put us under a lot of pressure.
“All credit to their defence for doing that.”
Adding that the visitors had anticipated a very physical French approach, he added that Ireland also knew they would be in for what he called “a very quick game of rugby here”.
“You can’t let them get momentum like that. They’ll just run you ragged,” he said.
“The competitiveness of the teams at the moment has really taken a step up.
“It’s the kind of thing where the little margins now count for a lot,” he continued.
Referring to Ireland’s concession of points while Cian Healy was sin-binned in the first half Wallace conceded: “Something like that can make a big difference now.”