O'Driscoll remains positive in defeat
February 13, 2010
Brian O'Driscoll endured a difficult afternoon in Paris © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll insisted his side's crushing 33-10 defeat by France does not signal an end to Irish rugby's purple patch.
A 12-match unbeaten run, which included victory over world champions South Africa as well as the Six Nations title, was halted in emphatic fashion in sub-zero temperatures at the Stade de France. The French justified their tag of championship favourites with a clinical destruction of O'Driscoll's men but the skipper believes his team will learn from their first defeat since November 2008 in time for their trip to Twickenham in a fortnight's time.
"We certainly don't think we've come to the end of a cycle," said O'Driscoll. "Obviously there is huge disappointment. "We haven't felt that for over a year but results like that are quite grounding at times. Not that we ever thought we were infallible but you get a reality check from those sort of games.
"You realise you haven't got everything bang on and we've got to use that to our advantage by putting the small things right. It's only a shame we don't have a game next week to put it right but hopefully we'll be back on it when we go to Twickenham."
French hooker William Servat scored the game's first try after 27 minutes while Ireland were down to 14 men through the sin-binning of prop Cian Healy for obstruction and centre Yannick Jauzion added a second before half-time, when the French led 17-3.
Ireland, who lost fullback Rob Kearney with a worrying knee injury, became increasingly ragged and conceded a third try to full-back Clement Poitrenaud before claiming a consolation effort through flanker David Wallace. It was as emphatic as they come and O'Driscoll admits the French remain firm favourites to succeed Ireland as champions.
"On a performance like that, it would take a very good team to beat them," he said. "One thing about the Six Nations is that you have to do that on five occasions. They still have three more to produce but it was certainly pretty effective stuff today.
"They played a physical game and gave their backs some good go-forward ball. It was a complete French performance. We spoke about not letting them get off to a good start and we might have created some momentum if Gordon (D'Arcy's) chip and chase had come off and we had gone 7-0 up but it was an impressive all-round display from them."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney was gracious in defeat, saying, "Any time you get beaten by three tries to one - and they probably had one or two other chances as well - you can't complain. I'd like to compliment them on that. It's an extremely difficult venue to come to. Even though our boys stayed at it, we never managed to come back into the game and France picked off the penalties.
"At 17-3 down, we tried to attack from deep but France covered the back field quite well. They kept the pressure on us and kept the scoreboard ticking along. A lot of little things cost us. It's a game of inches but we're not making excuses. It just didn't happen for us today."
Kidney will check on injuries to prop John Hayes (head), lock Leo Cullen (ankle) and Kearney, who is the most serious casualty, as he prepares for the England game.
Morgan Parra kicked 15 points for France and, with half-back partner Francois Trinh-Duc, tormented the Ireland defence, but coach Marc Lievremont declined to single out any individuals.
"Morgan Parra was one of the satisfactions of the game, as well as Francois, but it's difficult to single out players," he said. "We are looking for consistent performances and this is what we are still working on.
"The Irish team is a good team but we managed to master their strengths and we played smartly. The first 15 minutes were very tough and that is maybe where we built victory. The Irish team had more possession in our half but we managed to keep control of the game and build momentum."