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04th Feb 2023

Matt Williams tears into media for “rubbish” written about Ross Byrne

Patrick McCarry

Matt Williams

The former Leinster and Scotland coach teed off on rugby writers for what he believes is “rubbish” written about Ross Byrne.

Ross Byrne came on for the final stages of Ireland’s 34-10 win over Wales and showed some nice touches. Matt Williams, perhaps fired up from the manner of the Irish performance, used that substitute outing as a chance to tear into critics of the Leinster outhalf.

As Irish rugby fans will know well, Byrne was Ireland’s fifth-choice outhalf heading into November’s Bank of Ireland Nations Series. Injuries to Harry Byrne, Joey Carbery and, on game-day against Australia, Johnny Sexton saw Ross Byrne drafted into Andy Farrell’s match-day squad. The 27-year-old came off the bench in that game to kick the match-winning penalty.

Three months on, Andy Farrell appears to have settled on Byrne as back-up to Sexton. He was picked ahead of Munster’s Jack Crowley for the bench as Ireland headed to Cardiff for their Six Nations opener.

Byrne had one loose kick in his substitute outing but was otherwise solid and with a few lively moments in attack. To Matt Williams, it was all the gasoline he needed to light a match in his post-game analysis.

Matt Williams

Matt Williams on Ross Byrne

Following Ireland’s 24-point victory over Warren Gatland’s Wales, Matt Williams praised Ross Byrne for his 12-minute cameo and tore into any in the media that had written off the Dubliner as a Test option.

“Delighted for him,” said Williams. “Delighted for Ross, as a person.

“To get out there, and after the rubbish that has been written and thrown at him – saying he’s not good enough, and all that – in the papers. For the guy to get out there, as a young man, and jam it down everyone’s throats and prove people wrong, I’m delighted for him. A very positive performance.”

For the record, Ross Byrne has underwhelmed as a Test-level outhalf up until recently. The player himself has admitted he has found it hard, in the past, to bring his provincial form to the international game, especially as he is only getting handful of minutes off the bench.

The Australia outing and his positive cameo against Wales will both stand to him. Shane Horgan, sitting in the Virgin Media studio beside Matt Williams, hd some words of praise for Byrne but did point out that Wales were down to 14 players and “fatigued”.

“I would have liked to have seen him on five or 10 minutes earlier,” Williams added.

Sexton went off with what Andy Farrell said was a dead leg but the Ireland coach also revealed his captain had taken a Head Injury Assessment as a precaution, and passed.


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