Gatland: Ireland defeat is my lowest point with Wales
February 8, 2014
Wales had little to celebrate © PA Photos
Warren Gatland has criticised his players for their lack of discipline and branded Wales' defeat to Ireland the lowest point of his seven years in charge of the team.
They were over-run 26-3 in Dublin as they put in a sloppy performance that must have damaged the optimism they took into this Six Nations campaign.
Winning the title for a record-breaking third successive year may have been up for discussion before the game but the head coach moved the debate on as he pulled no punches in his assessment of the display.
"We were well beaten by a better team. No excuses," said Gatland. "It was a disappointing performance for us. We were dominated up front and that is what made the difference.
"Credit to Ireland they were a better team than we were today. We were well beaten."
Gatland was particularly disappointed with Wales' showing in the breakdown area, which prevented them involving their big wingers, Alex Cuthbert and George North, as much as they would have liked.
Gatland also had an issue with their susceptibility to conceding penalties. "We spoke about discipline," he said. "We gave away too many penalties. That just gave them the opportunity to kick and work lineout drives.
"It was the most disappointing performance from us since I have been the Wales coach. The test now for us is how we bounce back and show character. You do get a bad day at the office sometimes and today was a bad day at the office.
"There was a lot at stake emotionally for the Irish. That's a huge part of the performance. Now we have to take a long hard look at ourselves and maybe change personnel."
Wales centre Scott Williams left the Aviva Stadium with his arm in a sling after suffering a shoulder injury but despite the setbacks skipper Sam Warburton refused to abandon hope of retaining the title.
For the victors, head coach Joe Schmidt admitted their success had raised hopes of a title challenge.
However, any lift from the win was tempered by lock Dan Tuohy suffering a suspected broken arm but said Ireland cannot target the title outright just yet.
"I'm not going to think too far ahead," said Schmidt, whose side will chase the Triple Crown against England at Twickenham on February 22. "But it's certainly a gathering of confidence for us. The big, powerful team Wales brought today were always going to be tough opponents.
"They never quite got into the game really, they were perhaps not entirely match-fit some of them so in that respect I would suggest we were fortunate in some areas, and definitely benefited from that.
"We'll get together again after a couple of days, review what we've done, take stock and work out how we can keep getting better. Then we'll plot some sort of course forward going to Twickenham.
"That's a massive game for us now; I think they were very unlucky against France and are an extremely powerful side."
Former Gloucester lock Tuohy replaced captain O'Connell just before the hour, only to suffer almost immediate injury. Lamenting his loss, Schmidt said: "I think Dan has fractured his forearm, and he will see a specialist. We will have more news on that next week but it's almost certainly a fracture.
"It was really unfortunate for Dan, he played well last week. We had a lot of confidence putting him on, and it was really his first action that it happened so we feel for him and we're really disappointed for Dan."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports
Wales did the All Blacks a favour with their best effort against New Zealand for many years, for 68 minutes at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Craig Dowd writes
In the wake of another perfect November series, Monday Maul talks to NZRU CEO Steve Tew about the constant demand for perfection