Cardiff Spirit can Give Irish Confidence

Cardiff Spirit can Give Irish Confidence The start of the 2021 Six Nations, of course, did not go to plan for Ireland, as they suffered a 21-16 defeat at the […]

Cardiff Spirit can Give Irish Confidence

The start of the 2021 Six Nations, of course, did not go to plan for Ireland, as they suffered a 21-16 defeat at the hands of Wales in the opening round. However, head coach Andy Farrell will be able to take a number of positives from the experience in Cardiff, with Ireland playing the majority of the game with 14 men.

Irish give Welsh a Scare

With Peter O’Mahony being shown a red card in the 14th minute of the contest at the Principality Stadium, many would have thought the result was, at that point, a foregone conclusion. Ireland had different ideas and went on to score 13 points in the first half and lead at the break.

The Irish, who are considered out of the running for the title in the Six Nations teams odds and betting at 100/1 as of February 14, found themselves battling to win the match right up to the final whistle. While Wales coach Wayne Pivac will be slightly concerned his side could not put the game out of Ireland’s reach, Farrell will have seen much to be proud of.

With 14 men for much of the contest, the fact Ireland could take the game down to the final play, speaks volumes about the side. That will be something Farrell can build on for the remainder of the Six Nations Championship, and towards the 2023 World Cup in France.

Some Standout Performances

Amongst the positives to take from the defeat in Wales, there were some outstanding performances from players under the pressure of the numerical disadvantage. In the forwards, back-rower CJ Stander was his typical combative self. The Munster star continued to take the fight to the Welsh, while never taking a backward step.

In the backline, centre Robbie Henshaw put his name back in the frame for the British & Irish Lions once again, as he caused the Welsh defence problems at every turn. Henshaw saw his 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand cut short after an injury against the Hurricanes. With performances like the one in Cardiff, the 27-year-old will be giving Lions head coach Warren Gatland something to think about before the scheduled series with South Africa this summer.

A Lesson Learned

While there are positives to take forward, it was ultimately a losing start to the Six Nations for the Irish. As the side builds towards the next World Cup on French soil, they will look to learn as much as they can from every international outing.

Ireland handled the loss of O’Mahony well in the early stages and even had the Welsh on the backfoot in spells of the game. The issue of discipline will have been one covered by Farrell and his management at every training camp.

Perhaps seeing in the flesh the repercussions of a momentary lapse of discipline will provide Ireland a lesson learned going forward. There is still plenty of excitement around what this Ireland squad can do in the future, and Irish fans will be hoping Cardiff was just a minor bump in the road.