Rugby Ireland's player-by-player Rugby World Cup report

Ireland's player-by-player Rugby World Cup report

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Ireland traveled to the Rugby World Cup in anticipation only of having their hopes abruptly after a familiar exodus in the quarterfinals. The first adrenaline surge following the victory over Scotland turned out to be a mistaken diagnosis of Ireland's rugby welfare, a fact that first became Japan and then New Zealand reckless.

Preparing the final report is a flawed process that offers nothing but an audio bite, but what cannot be debated is that very few Irish players showed up from the tournament in Japan with improved reputation; the majority underperform based on standards they have set in the past.

FORWARDS

Rory Best (capt)

Ireland's simplified line-out where winning ball rather than taking more risky opportunities was the priority worked well, he led with clarity and in general play deserved his starting place. Rating: 6

Ireland's Rory Best talks to his teammates after the Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to New Zealand. Photo: Dan Sheridan / Inpho

Ireland's Rory Best talks to his teammates after the Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to New Zealand. Photo: Dan Sheridan / Inpho

Tadhg Beirne

Two starts, three games off the bench, his performance against Samoa on the blindside flanks best exemplified his obvious quality without really being given a sufficient platform to earn a starting place. Rating: 5

Jack Conan

He came after an injured Peter O'Mahony in the Scotland game and excelled at a point where he was a likely starter against Japan before an injury ended his World Cup. Rating: 6

Seán Cronin

Two games and 41 minutes total from the bench, he was very third choice before the injury removed him from the equation in New Zealand match week. A frustrating tournament for him. Rating: 4

Tadhg Furlong

He showed flashes of his best form, nothing more than the charge-storm attempt against Scotland, his speed of work was raucous, and he locked out the scrimmage, but did not get enough chances to use his hands and power in wider channels. Rating: 6

Cian Healy

He performed the basic tasks capably, but rarely managed to find space to use his power and footwork to the best effect and was usually called ashore around the 50-minute mark. Rating: 5

Rob Herring

He first arrived as a late replacement for the injured Sean Cronin and was limited to a couple of training points in New Zealand match week. Verdict: Not relevant.

Iain Henderson

Ireland's lineout calls played in all five matches, starting four, but only once did they last 80 minutes; he did not convey the standards that his talent offers at its best. Rating: 5

Dave Kilcoyne

A start, he played in all five games, adding tremendous value on both sides of the ball upon his arrival. There is a difference between start and emergence, but he pushes hard for the No. 1 jersey. Rating: 7

Jean Kleyn

Poured some unreasonable flak over being selected in front of Devin Toner, something his lack of playing time merely highlighted. Solid and worked hard to clear his back, his carrying and footwork needs to be improved if he is to get more options. Rating: 4

Jordi Murphy

Called for the tournament as a replacement for the injured Jack Conan and then void out of the tournament after only 27 minutes of the match against Russia; very unlucky in every respect. Rating: 4

Peter O'Mahony

Skilled with every fiber, no one could have faulted his work ethic or application, but he only completed one game that he started, and his best performance was arguably on the open flanks, a role he might be competing rather than blindside forward. Rating: 6

Aaron Smith celebrates his first attempt while Peter O & Mahony dives in. Photo: Stu Forster / Getty Images

Aaron Smith celebrates his first attempt while Peter O & Mahony dives in. Photo: Stu Forster / Getty Images

Andrew Porter

He matures into an international top class, as evidenced by his work when he comes in all five matches. The most important decision going forward is which side of the scrimmage to play to maximize his all-around impact. Rating: 6

Rhys Ruddock

Scored a try against Russia in his only start but demonstrated in his two cameos against Japan and New Zealand why he deserved a place in the run-on team. Rating: 7

James Ryan

There is a benchmark level in performance at which the young second does not dip no matter how tough the conditions are, and although he was not consistently at his high soaring best, he remains one of Ireland's foremost players and a future captain. Rating: 7

John Ryan

His only outing was 58 minutes against Russia, a match in which he played well and therefore not a reflection on his lack of contribution to the rest of the tournament. Rating: 5

Niall Scannell

Understanding the captain always meant that his playing time would be limited and that was exactly how it panicked. He skillfully appeared under these options. Rating: 5

CJ Stander

The 373 minutes across the five games as they weighed against the way he plays the game was a staggering physical effort, both in attack and defense. Footwork and passing remain issues, but it will be interesting to see if he switches over backrow forward. Rating: 6

CJ Stander came through a huge amount of playing time. Photo: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

CJ Stander came through a huge amount of playing time. Photo: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Josh van der Flier

Another player who deserves tremendous credit for his physical durability. For Ireland to maximize its particular skills, the way they play the game needs to be shifted, with an emphasis on more expansive philosophy as in the past. Rating: 6

Cian Healy and Josh van der Flier after the defeat to the All Blacks. Photo: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Cian Healy and Josh van der Flier after the defeat to the All Blacks. Photo: Billy Stickland / Inpho

BACKS

Bundee Aki

Forced with a head injury after 22 minutes against Scotland, he played a full game against Russia before sending off against Samoa, causing a broken World Cup. Rating: 5

Joey Carbery

Showed flashes of his innate footballing ability, but limited to comrades when he came off the bench three times: forced to chase things in the Japan and New Zealand games. Rating: 5

Jack Carty

Started against Japan, got 40 minutes against Russia and just over 20 in the opening win over Scotland. Some excellent individual moments, the challenge ahead is to improve game management. Rating: 5

Andrew Conway

Scored attempts in all three matches he played, noticeably in the squad, and that should have earned him a starting spot in the New Zealand match. Rating: 7

Keith Earls

After missing the match in Scotland, he played the remaining four matches. His brilliant coverage of Kenki Fukuoka was a highlight, but underutilized in attack he occasionally tried to force matters and that led to mistakes. Rating: 5

Chris Farrell

Superb, when he came to Aki against Scotland, he had a decent match against Japan in difficult circumstances; based on tournament form, he had a strong claim to a place for the All Blacks match. Rating: 6

Robbie Henshaw

Injured when traveling to the World Cup, it was a tough request for him to try to go from nothing to typically excellent within that timeframe due to his lack of acumen in the match and his performance was suitable; a trial and a few uncharacteristic errors. Rating: 4

Robbie Henshaw was unable to meet his usual standards after injury. Photo: Stu Forster / Getty Images

Robbie Henshaw was unable to meet his usual standards after injury. Photo: Stu Forster / Getty Images

Rob Kearney

Two attempts in his three tournament games, including a smart line and goal against Japan, he was typically sure to fulfill the basics, but lived off remnants of attack. Rating: 6

Rob Kearney is leaving the field unhappy. Photo: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Rob Kearney is leaving the field unhappy. Photo: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Jordan Larmour

He played a part in all five games and showed impressive maturity to complement his dazzling footwork, pace, ability to beat defenders and an appreciation of teammates' running lines. Rating: 7

Luke McGrath

Began a match and came off the bench in the other four, but he didn't really get a fair chance to compete for the jersey based specifically on match minutes and the time of his introduction. Rating: 5

Conor Murray

Four starts, kicking a conversion, providing a brilliant scoring pass for a Jordan Larmour try, but like multiple players, he has not regained his best form or rediscovered the threat he used to pose around the fringes. Rating: 5

Garry Ringrose

Four starts, two tries, and with the exception of the All Blacks match, when every Irish player was under the gun, he enjoyed a reasonably good tournament. He needs to be an attacking corner forward. Rating: 7

Johnny Sexton

Until the New Zealand game, he lived up to his billing as a hugely influential talisman for his country. His poor performance in the quarterfinals was so atypical. Rating: 6

Johnny Sexton couldn't make it to the quarterfinals. Photo: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Johnny Sexton couldn't make it to the quarterfinals. Photo: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Jacob Stockdale

It's criminal, given his attacking prowess, that he spent the tournament on the periphery in that part of the game. His frustration probably shines through in his momentum at times in defense. Rating: 4

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