Rugby: We can still retain the title, says defiant D'Arcy
After a 33-10 defeat by France, Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy believes Ireland can still win the Six Nations.Paris – Ireland can still go on to retain the Six Nations title claimed veteran centre Gordon D'Arcy on Sunday the day after his team's hopes of a Grand Slam repeat were shattered with a 33-10 defeat by France.
The 30-year-old - who won his 45th cap alongside fellow European Cup winning Leinster team-mate Brian O'Driscoll against the French - admitted, however, that they would have to improve and also hope that results go in their favour.
"We know what we have to do now and next week will be a fairly honest week, to say the least. We've got to roll with the punches," said D'Arcy, who is still to taste victory in Paris after 11 years as an international having missed out on selection in the 2000 victory.
"But the great thing about sport is that next week is a clean slate, so as long as you're selected you get the chance to make up for it.
"The championship is still open. All we can do now is try and win our remaining games while hoping somebody nicks one against France.
"Then if we win it, we win it. If we don't then we'll have gone out on a high," added D'Arcy, who once he finally made the centre spot his own in 2004 made an immediate impact and was named player of the Six Nations that year.
However, D'Arcy was frank about what the crushing defeat by the French meant to a side that had got used to not losing, having gone 12 games without defeat - and that several areas had to be worked on ahead of their next match away at improving England at Twickenham in a fortnight.
"A reality check, a kick in the ass - you can put 100 different names on that result," said D'Arcy, who came agonisingly close to scoring the opening try only for the ball to bounce badly for him.
"We got right a lot of things that we did wrong against Italy (29-11 victory at Croke Park) last weekend, but were slack in other areas."
D'Arcy, who spends his time away from the game doing charity work such as a humanitarian project in Calcutta four years ago, did take some positives out of the defeat, but rued the fact that the Irish failed to press home the advantage they had gained in terms of possession in the opening quarter.
"Look at France's body language body during that first 20 minutes," said the two-time British and Irish Lions squad member.
"We were all upright and they had their hands on their knees, but we just didn't capitalise and then the error rate started increasing.
"We had them under pressure and they were beginning to creak but then we let them out of it.
"Look at David Wallace's (Ireland's only try compared to France's three) try – that was the gameplan, but we didn't always get it right.
"We probably made the highest number of unforced errors in a long time. Little errors accumulated.
"Last week we let Italy out of their 22 cheaply and we did the same against France.
"The difference is France can shift and put pace on the ball. We can do better than this but we shot ourselves in the foot."
D'Arcy, though, acknowledges that unlike when he first made his debut in 1999 the game seems to progress match by match and every side has to keep on improving.
"I look at the way the bar has been raised since 12 years ago – it has not been a gradual increase," he said.
"It's getting steeper and steeper every year. We're happy that we can play under that pressure, we just have to play better than we did against France."
AFP / Expatica