THE Irish rugby press and sections of the rugby fan base in Ireland are deluding themselves if they think that the quality of Irish rugby is up to scratch at present.
I attended the sell-out match at the Aviva Stadium last weekend, and was hugely disappointed by the quality of rugby on display.
Contrary to what has been written by some, the intensity and fitness at the breakdown was not up to world standard.
An ability to generate quick ball from the ruck, an absolute prerequisite for success in the modern game, was non-existent.
I am writing this because I fear that Irish rugby will suffer (another) painfully rude awakening come the next World Cup and, more immediately, come the next round of Test matches.
The southern hemisphere (New Zealand, Australia and South Africa) are, once again, setting the standard for the game. They are playing it as William Webb Ellis intended.
As such, New Zealand will next month provide the barometer with which the actual quality of Irish rugby will be gauged.
Right now, we are set to be rudely awakened by the lesson in good rugby that will be administered to us.
We can continue to play a lazy-minded, very limited style of rugby in Ireland whilst making plenty of interesting excuses (which we are world-beaters at), but to use the analogy of the inferior boxer: "You can run round and round the ring to evade your opponent, but eventually he is going to get you in the corner and give you a hiding".
This is the fate that will befall Irish rugby and its generous supporters if our mentality and style of play is not changed.
John B Reid
Monkstown, Co Dublin