Team in green see red over Gatland gaffe

Wales coach's provocative remarks just seem 'stupid' to Irish Grand Slam hopefuls

Ireland arrived in Cardiff last night struggling to maintain a dignified silence concerning the extraordinary "my players dislike the Irish more than anybody else" comments made by the Welsh coach Warren Gatland. But back over the water they had left a backlash that the Kiwi was fortunate to be avoiding.

Far from this being a masterful piece of mental warfare before the Championship deciding encounter, the Irish commentators were taking it to be a crass error of judgement on Gatland's behalf that had played directly into Declan Kidney's hands. Nobody pointed the finger more enthusiastically than Shane Byrne, the hooker who just happened to be awarded his first cap by Gatland in 2001.

"Trying to provoke a reaction by saying something like the Welsh have a problem with the Irish is just stupid," said Byrne, who is still very close to the majority of Irish players. "Warren is a New Zealander coaching Wales; you wonder how much he has his finger on the pulse of the nation. If you canvassed people on the streets of Cardiff, you'd be hearing about their dislike for the English, not Ireland. Gatland is a coach who wants to grab the headlines... he is playing some sort of game with Kidney.

"He got the selection wrong against Italy, then there was the infighting with [Gavin] Henson over the decision to kick that penalty and this is Gatland's way of dealing with all of that – introducing his own brand of New Zealand 'wit'. I think it will backfire. The Irish guys will be having a laugh with it, but only in a way that will help focus minds rather than unsettle them. There's no way Kidney will fall into this sort of trap."

That was the general consensus and such was the outcry that Gatland felt obliged to explain himself. However, whether the Irish will accept his clarification remains to be seen. "I meant it as a compliment," said Gatland. "I knew when I said it that it was going to get headlines. It got more of a reaction than I wanted probably... I wasn't saying they disliked them as people, they just wanted to beat them so much. It's like when I was with Waikato, we always wanted to beat Auckland more than anybody else."

Even some of Gatland's Irish allies were apparently of the belief that he might have gone too far. "It's typical Warren," said Donal Lenihan, the Irish team manager when Gatland took charge. "I think there are times when he loses the run of himself. I was talking to Lawrence Dallaglio, who was his captain at Wasps, about him just a few weeks ago. Lawrence said there were times before matches when Warren came out with statements and you just said to yourself 'why did you say that' and I think this is one of those occasions... I think it's more a case of him challenging his own players. It's all mind games. I'm sure Warren has a huge amount of respect for the Irish players. And I know the guys in the Irish set-up will have a lot of time for him."

A query was put above that last comment when members of the Irish coaching staff finally reacted to the Gatland grenade. First Paul McNaughton, Ireland's current team manager, said "it was not worthy of a response" before dismissing Gatland's claims that Ireland spent an hour-and-a-half singing in the dressing room after winning at Murrayfield on Saturday. "It was completely wrong and nonsense – there wasn't a note sung in the dressing room if that's what he is talking about," he said. "Most of them can't sing anyway. They were in reflective mood – starting to think about the next game."

And then Les Kiss, the Irish defence coach, introduced his Australian twang into the controversy. "He is going to come out with any statement to try and turn the screws in our heads and make us think about things that we should not think about," said Kiss, adding his belief that Gatland, "is going to come up with more". "Wales will come out with whatever they need to try and deflect from the fact that they haven't been quite where they would like to be." That was clear reference to the defeat in Paris and last weekend's poor display in Rome. Said Kiss: "If they are talking about pressure and how to turn that around, they might be better off concentrating on their own stuff." The game, as they say, is very much on.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
Robyn Lawley
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star