There was a feeling of disappointment in the Irish camp after throwing away a winning position against France to draw 17-17 in Paris on Sunday.
Two-try winger Tommy Bowe gave his side an 11-point half-time lead but Les Bleus came storming back after the break and ultimately ended Ireland’s Six Nations hopes.
“To score two tries in Paris is a great achievement but nobody enjoys coming away with a draw. We showed good composure in the last ten minutes,” said Bowe.
“Our first-half display was outstanding but we were under a lot of pressure at the end and did well to avoid giving away a penalty, which was crucial.”
Ireland coach Declan Kidney was left to rue a sloppy second half and admitted his team failed to play for the full 80 minutes. People looking at the Ireland Six Nations betting odds will have been disappointed by the way they let things slip.
“The boys put in a huge effort but we have to look at the second half and examine why we let France camp in our half for so long and enjoy so much possession,” said Kidney.
“We now have a six day turnaround before the Scotland match – that’s the challenge set to us and we’ll rise to it.”
Ireland went into the game in France needing a win to keep their faint title hopes alive. The draw left them three points behind Wales with two games to play. An unenviable task has become an improbable one and the Betfair Rugby Betting Odds reflect this.
Paul O’Connell was left to reflect on an opportunity missed as Ireland yet again failed to win on French soil. Ireland have won just once in France since 1972.
“We were in a good position but they came out with all guns blazing in the second half,” said the Ireland skipper.
“It’s frustrating as you don’t get many opportunities to win here but we didn’t take our chance.”
Instead, the beleaguered Scottish team has fallen firmly into focus in the sporting back pages, with rugby not actually waving goodbye to England as a major force in the game just yet despite the high hopes of the fans at Murrayfield at the weekend. With Scotland in confident mood before the England game, and England fans anxious about how their inexperienced team would perform on the pitch, it was the home side who unexpectedly crumbled and succumbed to the pressure that Six Nations involvement brings. Fans of Betfair Six Nations need to remember this.
What’s worse for the Scots is the fact that Wales are up next. Wales look for all the world like a team intent on playing top level rugby throughout the course of the tournament, and will be wanting to prove that their bid to win the Six Nations this year isn’t an overly ambitious one. If they want to do just that, they’ll have to be prepared to leave the Scots in a position where they are forced to go back to the drawing board to consider what has gone so badly wrong in their game to leave them fighting it out with the Italians for the unwanted wooden spoon. People looking at the Betfair rugby odds need to bear this in mind.
For the sake of rugby’s long-term health in Scotland, let’s at least hope for a competitive affair when these two mighty nations clash.
Ulster may not boast the same European pedigree as they fellow Ireland teams – barring their 1999 cup winning season – but McLaughlin has insisted his squad will go into the match without any fear and the Heineken Cup Odds suggest they may pull off an upset..
The Ulster coach has maintained the atmosphere won’t intimidate his side, especially after last week’s narrow defeat in the cauldron-like Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, at the hands of Clermont Auvergne in their final pool match.
“We don’t fear anybody – we are a quality side and we’re moving up the ladder in Europe,” said McLaughlin,” he said.
“Having witnessed the atmosphere in Clermont and now going to Thomond, it is something we’re going to relish and look forward to.”
While Munster marched into the knockout stages of this year’s Heineken Cup competition, the same can’t be said for Ulster, however, who crept in through the back door as the best runners-up, resulting in them going into the quarter-finals as eighth seeds and anyone looking at the Mobile betting will have to bear this in mind.
The seeding difference between the two sides won’t make any difference when they line-up against each other at the beginning of April.. Neither will their RaboDirect PRO12 form; which currently sees Munster seven points ahead of sixth placed Ulster.
There is a lot of rugby to be played before the two sides meet in their quarter-final and both clubs will need to focus on their league form before allowing the Heineken Cup to re-enter their plans.
England’s new coach, albeit on a temporary basis, Stuart Lancaster, has outlined his manifesto for the reform of the national side, noting that players who lack a particular “character and talent” will be shown the door. The 42-year-old added that the focus will be on young players, when the time comes to select England’s Six Nations squad, in 2012..
Lancaster, who is joined in the England camp by fellow coaches, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, said that, by the end of the Six Nations, England will hopefully be on “very strong foundations”, in preparation for the arrival of his replacement in the big chair, before summer, next year. Those looking at the 2012 Six Nations rugby betting will be keeping a close eye on his efforts.
The northerner is attempting to instil a new patriotism in his players, in a bid to repair the damage done to the image of English rugby during the recent World Cup. I’d like to think the players we select are going to be hugely motivated to put [the damage] right”, Lancaster said, noting that respect of England’s emblem, the rose, would be paramount..
However, Lancaster’s search for the next generation of England players got off to the worst possible start, at the weekend. The coach, on a scouting mission, was in the stands for Bath’s match against Leinster and the Harlequins fixture with Toulouse – only to see both clubs lose to their European opponents. Those looking at the rugby betting should bear this in mind.
The Leicester Tigers and the Northampton Saints were also beaten, by Clermont Auvergne and Castres Olympique, in what will be remembered as an abysmal weekend for English rugby. Only Gloucester and the London Irish managed to save face for England, dispatching Connacht and Racing Metro, respectively.
Returning to Stuart Lancaster’s plans for England; the former Leeds Academy boss says that he will not name a captain for the Six Nations until a pre-tournament training camp is completed. The Guardian reports that “six or seven” people are currently in the running for the captain’s armband.
Diamond singled out England coach, Martin Johnson, and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for criticism and claimed there is “no leadership at the top”.
Diamond is, perhaps, in no position to criticise the role model presented by others, after being fined £5,000 for a minor altercation with Nick Johnston, fitness chief at rugby side, Northampton. However, Diamond’s comments mirror those made by dejected England fans, in the wake of the country’s ill-fated match against France, last weekend. People looking at the Rugby World Cup betting would have been disappointed.
England were booted out of the World Cup by Les Bleus on Saturday, a development that Diamond believes was due to England “forgetting that France are a good side”. England’s supreme over-confidence prior to last weekend’s fixture stems from the fact that the Twickenham-based squad had never been beaten by France in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.
Diamond suggested that Martin Johnson may not have been ready for the England job, given that he had no experience of managerial roles before being given the position. Those betting on rugby may agree with this point of view.
“Martin himself was a fantastic player, but [management] is a completely different discipline,” he said.
Diamond’s added that the apparent lack of leadership at the highest level of the sport was demonstrated by the near-uncontrollable behaviour of a few England players during their time in New Zealand. Manu Tuilagi’s much-publicised harbour-dive capped an embarrassing few weeks for the national side.