Ex-Ireland back blames ‘Andy Farrell’s coaching’ for Grand Slam failure

Colin Newboult
Andy Farrell Ireland coach v England SN 2024 -Alamy.jpg

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell at Twickenham.

Former Ireland international Isaac Boss felt that Andy Farrell got it wrong during the Six Nations and was a big reason for their Grand Slam disappointment.

The 43-year-old was specifically referring to the second half of their encounter against England at Twickenham which saw the visitors forced into a change due to Ciaran Frawley’s head injury.

Ireland had already made an alteration in the opening period when Calvin Nash failed his head injury assessment.

Frawley was the player to come on for Nash but, when the Leinsterman also went down, Conor Murray was their only other backline replacement.

Bench split

Farrell, like he had done for two of the previous three Six Nations encounters, opted for a 6-2 split on the bench, but this time it proved costly.

Murray went into the scrum-half slot and Jamison Gibson-Park, due to his greater athleticism, was moved out wide.

Boss, who earned 22 caps, felt that was the wrong call, however, and was the main reason for the Irish failing to win back-to-back Grand Slams.

“It was more probably Andy Farrell’s coaching that cost the Irish,” he told The Breakdown. “When you’ve got Jamison Gibson-Park out on the wing; he’s the best player to tie up a game with 20 minutes to go and he’s having no influence.”

The New Zealand-born ex-scrum-half also poured scorn on England’s perceived improvement, despite their win over Ireland and the thrilling clash with France.

“England, for example, look I don’t think they actually did that well. The table makes them look a lot better than they were,” he added.

“They only just beat Italy and in the Irish game it came down to a (drop-goal).”

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Mid-year Tests

The next challenge for the Six Nations teams are Test series against the best the southern hemisphere have to offer in July.

Ireland take on South Africa while England face New Zealand in the two biggest encounters and Boss insists that the pressure is on to ‘back up’ their recent efforts.

“Momentum’s a massive thing. On the back of the Six Nations and those narrow wins, you’ve got to be able to come down to the southern hemisphere and back it up,” he said.

“We see them in their home environment. Six Nations, it’s very, very hard to win away from home.

“It’s the intensity of these matches, the one point, two point (margins), they’ve got to be able to do this now when they come down to the southern hemisphere, against the likes of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.”

Boss is expecting his former team to maintain their standards, however, both in the short and long term.

“There is a lot of those young guys coming through, whether it’s (Jack) Crowley or another guy, Joe McCarthy, who’s been very good in the locking department. There’s going to be more guys like that,” he added.

“Their U20s were back-to-back champions and went for a three-peat, so there might be some of these young guys coming up from the 20s, but they still need that very experienced core group.”

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