Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport

Six Nations Rugby: Ireland must learn from 2007, says Eoin Reddan

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland's players didn't get much time to enjoy the national holiday as they focus on the final round of Six Nations action, but St Patrick's Day 2007 is on their mind as they prepare for Murrayfield.

Last season, Joe Schmidt's side claimed the title on the final day, but eight years ago they were in a similar position to the one they find themselves in this week, with the onus on them to set the pace.

On a stunning day in Rome, they scored eight tries but allowed Italy's Roland De Marigny in for a costly late try which left France with a target of 24 as they took on Scotland at the Stade de France.

Hours later, Ireland watched in horror as Les Bleus were awarded a dubious late try to take the title.

Barring a surprise set of results, the 2015 instalment will be decided on points difference yet again. Wales kick off the day playing catch-up, needing a 25-points or more win over Italy to put themselves in with a chance of victory.

Ireland are next up and the challenge is to respond to Warren Gatland's side's total and then set about giving England something to chase against France.

It creates a delicate balancing act, with players and coaches at pains to stress that Ireland's focus is entirely on beating Scotland.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby reluctantly admitted that the score from the Stadio Olimpico would have to be factored into the equation in Edinburgh, but otherwise the focus will be on winning first and the scoreline will follow.

Scrum-half Eoin Reddan explained:"The way to win the title is probably not to think about the title. Test matches are such big occasions and it's frustrating for you listening to us because you want to grasp onto the fact that we want to go and win the title now.

"But we have a responsibility to make sure that there's no margin for error or complacency.

"If you take your eye off that for a second, there's no Championship, there's no win.

"There were games last year, if you look at Italy, which probably got us over the line in the overall Championship.

"Not getting too carried away with the big picture and just doing your own little thing a bit harder and a bit faster is key.

"We have the responsibility of letting people dream and think big. But our own responsibility is to think about the small little things and think all the way to the end."

Reddan was an unused replacement on that fateful day in 2007 and the memory is pretty clear in his mind.

"I remember us conceding a try late on that cost us a trophy in the end that we shouldn't have conceded," he recalled. "We should have beaten Italy by that extra bit and then we would have won the trophy.

"It's galling, but you do know the rules. You know what time the games are on. At the end of the day, we're playing second at the weekend and have a job to do from the start."

Ireland only like to talk about the things within their control, so if they beat Scotland, the 80 minutes at Twickenham are going to be difficult to watch, as was the case at the team hotel in Rome eight years ago.

Schmidt's side can only do so much at Murrayfield by beating Scotland and setting England a target to chase, then it's over to the least predictable team in world rugby - France.

"You wouldn't want to be relying on anyone else but in this case we probably are. So it would be great," Reddan said of the prospect of a French victory.

"I think the French looked pretty happy at the end last week, which was good to see, as a group. Even walking off the pitch I was trying to see what kind of mood they were in but they seemed pretty happy and I think that's what you want.

"If they're happy and maybe they've turned a corner in terms of the media being on their back and that sense of us against the rest of the world, maybe we might get a good performance."

The first obligation for Ireland is to produce their own performance in Edinburgh - a venue where Irish dreams have come crashing down around them on many previous visits.

Despite defeat in Wales, Reddan is upbeat of Schmidt's side's prospects based on his side's persistence during the final moments in Cardiff.

"You learn a lot about yourself and your team-mates, especially from a group from provinces who don't play together every week, to have that when it was needed," he said.

"Okay, we didn't get over the line. But, on another day, that's another penalty try or a try from the maul.

"We're very aware we need to tighten up in a few things. That character is there and if we just focus on our basics and get our jobs right, that will come through as well."

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph