Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

I'm a hooker and love it. The rough and tumble of the front row is a fantastic place to be.

I play for Clontarf FC, a large rugby club here in Dublin. I play for our J4 side, which is way way way down the leagues – we're the 5th adult mens team in the club. We play for the love of the game and try not to take it too seriously.

We've been doing quite well this season, with 6 wins from our first 6 games. Two weeks ago we had a first loss, which was unfortunate, but it was to the only other unbeaten team in our league. We put more points against them than all of their other opponents collectively. This kind of defeat is disappointing, but you can turn around and admit to being beaten by a better team – it doesn't hurt so much.

Last night we fielded a pretty good team against AIB – one of Irelands largest banks. We led the game for 79 of the 80 minutes, being ahead by 14 pts to 3 at one stage. Somehow in the last 20 we managed to lose the plot, and conceding 3 scores and the the game.

We did not keep possession well. We had 35-45% during most of the game, and only had the ball for about 5 minutes out of the last 20. We didn't have ball because either we lost it in contact, or we kicked. Some of our kicking game was good but there was a good breeze, and we didn't make touch, thus giving them possession and room to play with.

Losing the ball in ruck contact was the one glaringly obvious mistake. Our backs took the ball into contact, held it up for a split second, and we (the forwards) didn't clean it properly. A lot of the time we were getting there, but not setting it up, bridging and giving controlled ball to our scrumhalf.

I talked to the ref after about the number of penalties at the ruck (maybe 8 or 9 I'd say). He seemed to have one main concern in reffing, particularly at this level – safety. He sees us coming in over the ruck dangerously he's immediately going to blow us up. We need to control the ruck with guys in pillar positions, and clear out the tacklers while staying on our feet.

There were some good points: our tackling was quite good. The forwards were getting to the breakdown on time – we just needed to do the right thing when we got there. Our scrum was good for the most part. Our maul was relatively good. Our scrumhalf dealt excellently with the sloppy ball he was getting, with great passes to #10. We dominated the game in spells, but didn't put it together to kill it off.

I'm gutted that we lost it from 14-3.

I'm not going to make to training tonight, I'm still carrying some injuries. I'll take a couple days off, head to the West of Ireland tomorrow night, and spend a long Paddys weekend there.

Hopefully Ireland can cheer me up on Saturday and beat Wales by 15-20 points to win the 6N. But I'll settle for a Triple Crown 🙂

For the gamblers out there (I'm not one,
and #include <stddisclaim.h>), I do know that France at 18-1 against for the 6N is not a bad deal. They need to beat Italy by 40+, and hope that Ireland beat Wales, but by a small margin. Quite plausible.

Enjoy Paddy's day y'all.

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