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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?