FRENCH soccer great Zinédine Zidane once stated that “life is full of regrets, but it doesn’t pay to look back”.
I can understand where he is coming from. However, I don’t fully agree with it either.
Personally, I believe in order to move forward you need to review what has happened in the past and realise there are great learnings to be had, especially from failure. Learnings that make sure you don’t make the same mistake over and over.
Having coached at levels light-years below where Andy Farrell now finds himself, I’d be certain he has had many sleepless nights wondering how the French found a way to outsmart Ireland in game two of this year’s Six Nations.
I believe Ireland showed them too much respect and when they realised that they could match and better them in many areas, the discrepancy on the scoreboard they were chasing was just too much for them to claw back.
Your windows of opportunity in sport drastically diminish with the higher the level that you play at and while the title is most likely gone now, there is so much goodwill and momentum to be carried forward once Ireland beat the Scots tomorrow.
It would be fantastic if England could beat the French and do us a favour. For that to happen Eddie Jones will need to find a way for his players to score tries and considering they managed just seven in their last four games, it’s unlikely. Particularly in Paris, with the magnificent French set for a Grand Slam.
Winning a Triple Crown is no mean feat and it would be just reward for this team’s efforts over the season. The last time Sexton and company won a Triple Crown was in 2018.
Finishing runners-up to a very complete French side is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you consider the deficit on the day was less than a single score.
The fear I have surrounding tomorrow’s game is that Scotland have absolutely nothing to lose. Should they get the rub of the green they could cause an upset because they unquestionably have the skill-set to trouble Ireland.
They have already beaten England and Italy, losing to Wales and France. Nobody apart from the Scottish management and their players will be expecting to leave Dublin with anything less than a good old St Patrick’s weekend hangover so I think they will throw complete caution to the wind and keep the ball in hand.
With Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, and the unpredictable Finn Russell in their ranks, only a fool would underestimate the line-breaking and try-scoring ability of this Scottish outfit.
Scotland’s front-row unit will have watched Ireland’s scrum capitulation against England with much interest and will do everything in their power to replicate this scenario. However, I do think Ireland’s scrum coach John Fogarty will have his homework done for this one.
What happened to Ireland’s scrum last week is completely unacceptable, but after watching the game again the English props were scrummaging against Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy with some very dubious angles and the French referee was completely hoodwinked. What disappointed me most is that Furlong and Healy, with all their experience, did not know how to deal with it.
Scrummaging is a very dark art where only the very brave or very imprudent choose to ply their trade and if there was ever a sector of the game that the old saying ‘it’s only cheating if you’re caught’ applies, the front row would be it.
Ireland head into this without Andrew Porter, James Ryan, and Ryan Baird and while this trio is very significant, Ireland have more than adequate cover.
Just as there is nothing guaranteed in life apart from death, the same can be said of any Six Nations weekend.
Wales should beat Italy, Ireland have too much to lose against Scotland and England will not be capable of doing us any kind of favours against the French, but do not be surprised if all my three predictions are wrong.
It’s the unexpected that makes sport such a wonderful thing.