On Monday night, the IRFU released a statement following its receipt of the Rugby World Cup review compiled by management consultants Genesis, who’ve done quite well out of Irish World Cup disasters this decade.
The report, which will not be made public, will lead to modifications to the coaching structure of the national team.
So what’s going to change? A figure with international rugby experience will join the management team, providing support to Eddie O’Sullivan. A dedicated backs coach will also be appointed and a team and management psychologist will also jump aboard the good rugby ship Ireland.
“More effective lines of communication” will be established “between all those involved in the squad – players, coaches, management and support staff”.
Cutting the PR speak, this surely means there’ll have to be a little more talking going on at get-togethers and training sessions. Did it really require the hiring of a consultancy group to point this out?
According to IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne: “The findings confirm that Management, Players and the IRFU alike accept that individually and collectively we underperformed at the World Cup and fell well short of our expectations and the expectations of our supporters…
“This presentation identified that there was a complex mix of factors involved in Ireland’s under performance at Rugby World Cup 2007.”
The review states that the players didn’t play enough high-intensity fixtures ahead of the World Cup, again a point that had been made by dogs frequenting streets, let alone rugby experts.
A confidential player questionnaire, as well as a separate one-on-one interview, revealed “that personal issues or rifts did not exist or play any role in the underperformance of the team”.
One presumes that players anxious to remain in the coach’s plans would hardly have nailed O’Sullivan to a wall with their words just weeks ahead of the selection of the Six Nations squad.
So plentiful are the rumours of disquiet between the coach and certain players that surely all cannot be classified as inventions of hearsay – no smoke without fire, etc.
“The IRFU views this report as a vital piece of research which it will use to introduce reforms in the specific areas highlighted and to guide its short, medium and long term planning for Ireland’s elite teams,” according to Philip Browne.
“In saying this we acknowledge that it will not be practicable to implement a number of these recommendations pre the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”
So there will be change at the top of Irish rugby. We just don’t know when that change will come about.