Ireland v Argentina: Irish aren’t ready to abandon attacking philosophy
As the battered and bruised Irish enjoyed the second of a two-day break yesterday, Jamie Heaslip was in reflective mood as he gazed upon a dimly lit Dublin streetscape.
“What's it called again when the weather reflects the mood in plays?” he asked, almost rhetorically. He didn't have to wait long for an answer; pathetic fallacy, as all Shakespearean students will remember, is a device whereby one ascribes moods to inanimate objects, such as the weather.
And so, as the rain sheeted down, it was difficult to know whether his mood had darkened in tune with the economic and political gloom.
Maybe he was still running through Saturday's game in his mind; Ireland throwing their best punches in a year but still being hustled out of town, with six men tossed into the infirmary for good measure. Or he could just have lost his iPod charger.
In any event, the clouds did part occasionally enough yesterday to let Heaslip and others see the sun shine after what was thoroughly an All Black weekend.
However, the pervading feeling as the Irish camp regathered last evening would be to affirm that, even if very belatedly, their pursuit of more expressive rugby must continue.
Even if, as Saturday's Test against the world's best ruthlessly exposed, innate skill and system failures may mean that sometimes the perils of expansive rugby may massively outweigh the benefits.
This week will represent an even more significant challenge; how to maintain their planned path of progress with heavily depleted resources. What seems like a crisis should grant opportunity.
For in next year's World Cup, Ireland must be prepared for every eventuality created by injury. With Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald definitely ruled out of contention this weekend against Argentina, Kidney can afford to rejig his pack while still ensuring the integrity of the game plan.
While Ireland need to be much more intelligent in terms of adapting to the Pumas' more suffocating blitz defence and prevailing weather conditions, attack coach Alan Gaffney asserted yesterday that Ireland will not retreat from their chosen path.
“I think we did what we set out to do and attacked them,” said Gaffney, for whom the presence of some semblance of attacking structure, and continuity play, must have been a blessed relief after a poor fortnight.
“It was more about how we as a team are trying to evolve and implement our own style and game plan rather than who we were playing. We did that for good periods and I think we saw another step forward on Saturday.
“New Zealand were ruthless at exposing our turnovers, as they have been with most teams this year. You have to be exceptionally tight with them not to give them the ball as they can make you pay.
“One pleasing aspect was that we created quite a few scoring opportunities and showed some good patience by holding onto the ball to keep them under pressure. If we can continue to do that under the new rules, we can continue to progress in our style and become more of a threat and ask questions of defences for longer periods.”