Irish rugby fans had high hopes ahead of the opening match against Scotland. They were counting on their team to prevail without breaking a sweat and then replicate that performance against Italy.
The only matches that truly seemed to count were the ones against England, France and Wales. What followed was a surprising defeat by 27 to 22, rooted in a disastrous first half that sent Ireland reeling. It’s most unlikely that Italy will cause another major upset, but there are definitely lessons to be learned from this defeat.
Complacency Forces Ireland to Play Catch-Up
Scottish fans and officials bragged about the strength of their team and warned their Irish neighbours about an upcoming disaster. At the time, nobody took them seriously and most people thought that it was only a matter of time until they will have to swallow their words. Bookies at OnlineCasinoReports.ie were all extremely confident that Ireland would win with relative ease and the odds reflected that poise. Even when things took a turn for the worse in the first half, most pundits expected a comeback.
Smugness is never a quality on the pitch, but quite often players get away with it simply because talent and experience trump commitment. Scotland toppled Ireland at Murrayfield largely due to their performance in the first half. They are trying to build one of their best teams in a generation and they take every match seriously. Ireland embraced the status of favorites instead of learning from their own memorable victories over Australia Ireland Gets Gears Stunned by Scotland in Six Nations Opening Match and the All Blacks in late 2016.
Not Too Late to Turn the Ship Around
Losing the opening match was bad enough, but Irish rugby fans have no reason to despair. The team is rock solid and this defeat should have a positive effect on the players, by compelling them to play their best. Ireland will need to be at 100% against England, France and Wales and play like they did in the third quarter against Scotland. If players can elevate their game and stay focused, this initial setback won’t matter in the end.
The memory of last year’s disappointing Six Nations campaign is still very much alive in the memory of rugby fans. Ireland made giant leaps forward in the wake of those forgettable matches and it would be a shame to throw it all away. Meanwhile, Scotland is celebrating the fact that they won the opening match for the second time in the history of the Six Nations and brace for tougher matches.