Rob Kearney: England ‘bullied’ Ireland as All Blacks comparison made

Jared Wright
Rob Kearney and Ireland's Joe McCarthy being tackled by England's Ollie Chessum during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and Ireland and Twickenham.

Rob Kearney and Ireland's Joe McCarthy being tackled by England's Ollie Chessum during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and Ireland and Twickenham.

Ex-Ireland full-back Rob Kearney has rued Andy Farrell’s side’s ill-discipline in their Six Nations defeat to England and compared it to the Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to the All Blacks.

Kearney still believes that Ireland are a “better team than England” but added that Steve Borthwick’s side used the All Blacks’ blueprint to end the hope of back-to-back Grand Slams.

Ireland can’t win at 70%

Looking back at the 23-22 defeat to England at Twickenham, Kearney was full of praise for Borthwick’s charges but was highly critical of Farrell’s side.

“What can we learn? We’re not a team that can play at 70% and beat the opposition,” the former British and Irish Lions told Virgin Media.

“There were elements that let us down. Our pack got bullied – we were beaten up, we didn’t give our backs enough clean set-piece ball. Our discipline was poor and that’s not something we associate with this team and we managed the last few minutes poorly.”

As mentioned, Kearney likened the defeat to Ireland‘s crushing loss to the All Blacks in the quarter-final of the World Cup last year.

“If you’re drawing comparisons with that World Cup quarter-final, we didn’t have one player on the Irish team that had a world-class performance. New Zealand had five or six,” he added.

“Sam Cane had his best game ever in a black shirt, Ardie Savea was unbelievable, Richie Mo’unga, Jordie Barrett, Beauden at the back.

“We didn’t have one of those performances for Ireland, last weekend or in the quarter-final. England had a lot of guys who had really excellent games.”

Pack didn’t pitch

He added that a lot of the forwards didn’t pitch up against England and that the Irish pack was simply beaten up and bullied.

However, he believes that Farrell’s charges were coasting through the Six Nations, with the other nations not testing them much before England.

“There were a lot of guys in the pack who just didn’t play well enough. They didn’t stamp their authority on the game, they didn’t get on the ball and carry enough,” he said.

“If you’re going to let the opposition beat you up then you’re going to come out second best.

“Ireland were romping to the top of the table with bonus-point wins, but without actually playing really top quality rugby, it was more just the fact that the other teams were playing very poorly.

“This one will hurt. These opportunities for back-to-back Grand Slams don’t come around very often.”

Chris Robshaw’s Six Nations Team of the Week: Ben Earl the standout but Italy’s super six dominate

Scotland’s consistency scares Kearney

Kearney is wary of Scotland in the final weekend of the Six Nations as Ireland look to clinch the title despite the Scots falling to a shock defeat to Italy in the penultimate round.

“The one team you don’t want coming to Dublin after a game like that is probably Scotland because you never know what they’re going to do,” he said.

“They’ve got the ability to score 30 points on their day, they’ll throw the kitchen sink at us and there won’t be an ounce of fear in them coming here. I don’t think that defeat has done much damage to the Scots because that’s what the Scots are like.

“They can have the worst performance and within a week produce their best performance.”

READ MORE: Another Irishman joins Springboks coaching team after successful World Cup stint