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Considering the manner in which New Zealand ran riot in Tokyo on Saturday, it is amazing to think that Ireland managed to keep them try-less less than 12 months ago. What happened in the intervening time will forever haunt Joe Schmidt.
In Andy Farrell, Ireland have a defence coach who has caused the All Blacks plenty of headaches over the last few years, be it with England, the Lions or Ireland.
That Farrell’s system was breached at such an alarming rate was deeply concerning.
Aggressive line speed has stood to Ireland, but New Zealand turned it into a weakness as they tore the defence to shreds.
The worst thing about Ireland’s shambolic performance was that the warning signs had been there all year and too many of us fell into the trap of believing that they could somehow come up with a once-off performance.
Where was the evidence to suggest that was remotely possible?
It all started in February when England exposed Ireland’s frailties out wide. It was a worrying trend that continued through to the World Cup when Japan did something similar, before New Zealand took it to a whole new level by playing rugby that was simply out of this world.
Ireland missed 32 tackles, which gives them an overall success rate of 78 per cent. That is far below what Schmidt has come to expect from his side and given that the All Blacks’ was up at 91 per cent, Ireland were always up against it.
Throw in another 18 turnovers conceded and any attempts to gain a foothold in the contest were quickly destroyed.
Farrell now has a huge rebuilding job on his hands and one wonders how much he will have been scarred by this experience.
The incoming head coach has already bounced back from one World Cup failure and now he must do so again as the main man.
It remains to be seen what Mike Catt will bring as attack coach because we didn’t see Italy produce anything near enough during hi
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