‘Tactically, technically, we have some of the answers for what went wrong’

IT FELT LIKE a reality check as much as a scoreline: Ireland 15-56 France.

Yet for Adam Griggs, the Ireland coach, there wasn’t a sense of panic after Saturday’s defeat, more of an awareness of what needs to be done to close the gap to the teams at the top tier of European rugby.

“We got France on a good day,” Griggs said afterwards. “I do believe we are getting better in terms of what the squad is producing and I know the score line does not reflect that. But we are growing, certainly in the right way. 

“We got to focus on making sure that we get better in terms of playing these good teams. Tactically, technically, we have some of the answers for what went wrong on Saturday. It is not like we are scrambling how we are going to go about next week. We know we have answers to some of the mistakes we made. We have got to keep the faith on that side of things.”

The set-piece is one area they need to address as France dominated the scrum, particularly in the final quarter. “The French pack is big – and they were a bit more cohesive than us,” Griggs said. “Once they got the hit it disjointed you. We are a smaller pack so we have to make sure we scrummage as a collective eight. Once we lost the hit it disjointed us a bit, so we need to look at tightening that up.”

France had too much power for Ireland. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Other issues are also fixable: two French tries came from positional errors. That sort of thing can be quickly sorted on the training field. And Griggs knows as much, saying: “If you look at the scoreboard we weren’t up to it but at the same time we have got to focus on being at the top of our own game against teams like this. 

“We got a big year coming up with our World Cup qualifiers and that is a real target for us – to make sure we perform in those.

“It would definitely benefit us [to play France and England more regularly].

“It is a different kettle of fish when you got to operate under immense pressure and make decisions a lot quicker. If you don’t make a decision you get found out very quickly and I think France was able to do us today. 

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“Playing this level of rugby against these players is good for us. I know we will be better for this next week. We got to finish on a positive note.”

Italy is who Ireland finish against, a fine side who posted a decent win over Scotland at the weekend. Griggs’ aim is for Ireland to be regarded as the best of the rest, given that France and England are a sizeable distance in front of everyone else in the Six Nations.

“The destination at the moment is the World Cup,” he said. “We are coming up against one of the teams, in Italy and Scotland, that we will be playing in those qualifiers so we want to lay down a marker and show we are worthy of third and the World Cup is huge on the horizon for us.”