Ireland's World Cup hopes take a battering after Twickenham hiding 3 weeks ago

Ireland's World Cup hopes take a battering after Twickenham hiding

Usually you can't take too much stock out of warm-up games.

In 2007 we remember them because of an assault on captain Brian O'Driscoll against Bayonne. In 2011 the standout moment from Ireland's World Cup warm-up matches was a career ending injury to David Wallace.

In 2015 they defeated Wales and Scotland while also losing to England and Wales in one try games. They did not ship 57 points to those nations after one of their most embarrassing performances of the Joe Schmidt era.

Usually you can't take too much stock out of warm-up games but when England put 50 points on your team, when it's near full strength, with over 10 minutes to play, and it follows one of the worst performances of Schmidt's entire tenure, it's grave cause for concern.

Where do you start from an Irish perspective? A completely dysfunctional line-out? Jamming in off the wings? Getting caught with missed tackles around the ruck? A number eight that hadn't carried the ball a single time in the first-half?

Conor Murray receiving a knock and Cian Healy limping off with another ankle injury would usually make headlines from a warm-up game but they're suffering is very much an afterthought in the wake of a humiliating defeat.

It was an absolute disaster for Ireland and the biggest win England have ever had over the team in the history of both unions.

All summer we've listened to players on how they've addressed the issues from the Six Nations and in reality this team has never looked worse.

Even when Jack Carty was taken out by George Kruis late in the game, not for the first time either after he hit Jacob Stockdale late in the first-half, there was no reaction from the Irish side. No fight, no bite, just an acceptance that they had been dominated.

They just looked at the fly-half grasp his face on the ground as Kruis walked back to the sidelines, where Ireland spent most of the game, never really getting a foot into the contest.

England were awesome with Manu Tuilagi reminding everyone just how good he can be but Ireland were pitiful.

England more than doubled their metres. They beat twice as many defenders. They made five times as many offloads with Ireland already the worst offloading team in the Six Nations. They hit on all 15 of their line-outs while Ireland completed just nine of 15 line-outs with numerous failed throws leading to England tries.

Hopefully Ireland enjoyed the sun in Portugal because an improved tan is about the only noticeable difference from this team to the one that finished the Six Nations.

Ireland were convincingly beaten by both Wales and England in the Six Nations but there wasn't the same sense that they were so hopelessly adrift of contending for the World Cup.

The England and Wales losses in the Six Nations were bad but they came on the back of a year where Ireland had won a Grand Slam, where they had beaten Australia twice in three games, where they head beaten New Zealand on home soil to follow up a win in Chicago.

Warm-up game or not, Ireland have now been convincingly beaten three consecutive times against legitimate World Cup contenders, conceding an average of 38 points in each of those games.

The returns of James Ryan, Devin Toner and Johnny Sexton to the starting fold should reduce some of the swelling but this a team that has transitioned from world beaters to just plain old bloody and beaten.

There's still a lot of players in the squad with Lions winning experience, Champions Cup winning experience, Six Nations and Grand Slam winning experience, but experience counts for little when you're being thoroughly outclassed in every single aspect of the game.

Former Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris was confident that Ireland could fix a lot of their issues but when you concede 57 points there's a lot more wrong with your team than just a few dodgy line-outs or dodgy kicks.

Ireland had a chance to go number one in the world with a win but in reality they are now at their lowest point of the Schmidt era.