Monday 21 May 2018

Kidney mulls future as Ireland sink to new low

Duncan Bech in Rome

Declan Kidney will consider his future over the coming weeks after Ireland slumped to a first Six Nations defeat to Italy.

The 22-15 loss at the Stadio Olimpico yesterday may well be deemed unacceptable by the IRFU, who will soon decide whether to renew Kidney's contract when it expires in the summer.

"I said all along that I'd concentrate on each game as it came and that's all I've done today," Kidney said. "I wasn't thinking that this could be my last match as coach, all I was concentrating on was getting the win. I wanted to get a result out of today, we didn't manage to do that and we'll reflect on it over the coming days and weeks.

"I'd have to sit down and think about whether I want a new contract. These guys are a pleasure to work with, but beyond that I'd have to sit back and think about it."

While succumbing to Italy may spell the end of Kidney, it could also have been Brian O'Driscoll's last Ireland match, with his future undecided beyond the summer.

O'Driscoll spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin for stamping and was fortunate to escape a red card for an offence that is sure to result in a suspension.

"Brian has had a strong Six Nations, given everything that has been going on for him," Kidney said. "He was outstanding against Wales and had a good match against France. I thought he did well today too.

"He's earned the space and time to be able to make up his own mind. Players are the only ones who know when the time is right to go."

Paddy Jackson kicked all of Ireland's points with five penalties, and captain Jamie Heaslip conceded that they had been outplayed.

"We gave away too many easy shots at goal and also turned over a lot of ball at the set piece. They cut us off at source," Heaslip said. "The set-piece is a big launching platform for any team, so to lose that was frustrating. But we were still in it until the end, despite the injuries."

Sergio Parisse celebrated the conclusion of Italy's most successful Six Nations.

It was the Azzurri's first victory in this particular fixture since joining the tournament in 2000 and when combined with their triumph over France, it completed their greatest overall championship performance.

They also registered two wins in 2007 – against Scotland and Wales – but Parisse insisted the quality of opposition they have mastered this year sets 2013 apart.

"You can't compare this Six Nations with 2007 because we have secured wins against two squads with a lot of history, two of the strongest in the world," the captain said. "We're a squad that's improving. We play France and Ireland in the group stage of the 2015 World Cup and we have sent a strong message to them.

"In this Six Nations we have managed to put a lot of teams under pressure. We played against some great players like Brian O'Driscoll, but have nothing to be envious of."

Wing Giovanbattista Venditti burrowed over for the game's only try in the 49th minute, but Italy could have finished with several more and were grateful that Luciano Orquera and Gonzalo Garcia had brought their kicking boots. Wales, beaten at home by Ireland in their opening game six weeks ago, outclassed England with a magnificent performance in Cardiff to retain their title.

The Welsh rose to the occasion majestically to claim a record 30-3 victory against their fiercest rivals at the Millennium Stadium.

Wing Alex Cuthbert's second-half try double shattered England, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked four penalties and fly-half Dan Biggar landed a drop-goal, penalty and conversion.

Irish Independent

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