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major setback Five things we learned from Ireland’s latest Six Nations defeat

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Ireland's Cian Healy (left) and France's Paul Willemse in action during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Ireland's Cian Healy (left) and France's Paul Willemse in action during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Ireland's Cian Healy (left) and France's Paul Willemse in action during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

1. Luckless Farrell

Andy Farrell must have kicked a black cat during the last World Cup. Ever since he took over as Irish coach, the only luck he has had is bad luck. His first Six Nations is cut in half by Covid-19.

The virus robbed him of a chance to build a team on last year’s planned summer tour to Australia and in home November games against the Wallabies and world champions South Africa. In his second Six Nations, Farrell’s first game is blighted by an early sending off – against France he lost three players to injuries within 90 seconds of the restart.

Farrell cannot buy a break.


2. Unforced errors

But some of the mess is Farrell’s own making with his selections. The fact that Jack Carty is not in the Irish squad means the Irish boss believes he is not among the four best out-halves in the land.

Those who saw Carty play against Leinster at Christmas will find that hard to believe.

For the second match in a row, Ronan Kelleher added oomph when he came on at hooker. Kelleher has to start against Italy. And how has Rhys Ruddock not played for Ireland in 16 months?

3. Paulie paying off

New forwards coach Paul O’Connell is earning his corn already. Even though the Irish line-out was without two top operators in James Ryan and Peter O’Mahony, Ireland’s line-out was first class yesterday.

We were solid on our throws and messed up France no end when they had the throw-in. It was excellent work by all the Irish pack against a very big French forward outfit.

4. Ruddock's big shift

Rhys Ruddock is a serious unit.

The Irish flanker put in a huge shift of charges, tackles and line-out work in a really physical encounter. He was immense against the French and with O’Mahony out for two more matches, Ruddock can look forward to further runs in the team.

5. Finding new ways to win

A couple of blades of white-painted grass cost Ireland a great first half try.

But the move that finished with James Lowe almost scoring was one of the few times in the game that Ireland put together some sparkling backplay.

Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Lowe looked comfortable the odd time they took on the visiting defence, but far too often a kick into the clouds from Jamison Gibson-Park or Billy Burns was our option when the ball belonged to the green shirts.

Ok, we don’t have an Antoine Dupont to spark things, but we have to try and work around that with something other than kicking.

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