Rugby Eamonn Sweeney: ‘Was this the worst defeat in Irish sporting history? Can you think of a worse one?’

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The Shizuoka Shitshow is in a class of its own.

All those predictions that Ireland could win the World Cup turn out to have been the sporting equivalent of those late Celtic Tiger era exhortations to keep buying property because the boom would get boomier. Hardly anyone saw this crash coming either.

In the stands, Joe Schmidt looked like a man who’d just heard how his Anglo Irish Bank shares were doing.

His players looked like guys who’d discovered what those East European apartments they’d bought off the plans were really worth. Ireland haven’t turned out to be the new All Blacks any more than Bulgaria turned out to be the new Tuscany.

Japan were regarded as a mere stepping stone towards encounters with teams more worthy of our attention. They were theamuse-bouchepreceding the meal proper. We choked on it.



Rugby The Irish defence line wait for Japan to play a pass during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Japan and Ireland at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka on September 28, 2019. Photo: William West/Getty Images

The Irish defence line wait for Japan to play a pass during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Japan and Ireland at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka on September 28, 2019. Photo: William West/Getty Images

Chickens which had been circling the coop for a while came home to roost like a flock of vultures descending on the carcass of Irish hope.

It turns out that the true indicator of Ireland’s worth is not last week’s meeting with the Supine Scots but this year’s Six Nations campaign, when the lineaments of approaching disaster were there to be seen. Our 2019 form turned out to be more relevant than our 2018 form. Who’d have thought it?

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Irish hopes of exiting Japan without further disgrace now rest with the Scots, so readily mocked a week ago. Should they beat the hosts we might yet progress to a quarter-final against South Africa and for a week delude ourselves that our hopes are not in complete tatters.

Should Japan beat Scotland, Ireland face a meeting with the All Blacks, which could turn out very embarrassing indeed.

Just before half-time you could see things beginning to unravel. Rory Best overthrew a line-out, Tadhg Furlong knocked the ball forward in the tackle, Jack Carty put a kick-off dead, an Irish scrum disintegrated humiliatingly in the Japanese 22.

It was like that mome

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