The rotten luck of the Irish

RUGBY UNION

LONDON IRISH forward Nick Kennedy insists spirit in the camp is as healthy as it’s ever been despite a run of 10 consecutive defeats.

That miserable sequence of results stretches back to the beginning of November, before when the Exiles had won six of their previous seven matches and put themselves in healthy positions on the domestic and European fronts.

But such has been their rapid fall from grace that even a resounding victory in Sunday’s Heineken Cup pool match against Ospreys may not prolong their involvement in the competition should results elsewhere go against them.

Despite the grim outlook, Kennedy maintains the squad are as tight as ever, united in their quest to turn the club’s fortunes around and finish the season strongly.

“I can’t lie and say everything is hunky-dory. Obviously there has been a lot of soul searching but in a strange way this run has brought us closer as a unit,” he told City A.M. “Nobody enjoys losing, but if you can’t smile and maintain some level of banter then it’ll just eat you up.

“When you’re on a run like this spirit is not normally high but we’re still coming into training with smiles on our faces and enjoying our jobs.

“We know we’re not far off the levels we need to be to get wins at this level. We need to keep things in perspective and if you look at the Premiership table we’re only three points off a top four.”

Irish finished sixth last term and were Premiership runners-up the season before, leading coach Toby Booth to proclaim there was no need to stray from the methods which have brought recent success.

Kennedy admitted he found the recent defeat against Bath – where they lost to the last kick of the game – particularly difficult to take but believes it was evidence that Irish are close to a return to winning ways.

“Of course you look yourself as a team and as individuals when you’re on this sort of run. But essentially we have enjoyed a great deal of success over the last few years playing a certain way. There’s no need for us to tear things up and start again.

“The Bath defeat was particularly galling but they are a solid team and to come so close to winning shows we’re not doing much wrong. We’ve not been losing games because of one thing in particular. Sometimes it’s been the scurm, sometimes we’ve been slow at the breakdown, but we’ve sorted those areas now.

“Once we get that win, whether it be against Ospreys on Sunday or in the next match, the confidence will flood back and we’ll go on a strong run until the end of the season.”

UNWANTED RECORDS | LOSING RUNS
RUGBY UNION
In early 1913, France was host to a touring Springboks party and lost 5-35. The match was part of an era that lasted from 1911 until 1920 which saw France lose 18 games in a row.

RUGBY LEAGUE
For just over two years – from January 1989 to February 1991 – Runcorn Highfield lost every single match, in both league and cup. That’s 61 straight defeats.

CRICKET
Bangladesh have set records in all three versions of the game for consecutive defeats, but it is in the 50 over format they tend to excel at losing. Between 1986-1998 the Tigers lost 22 consecutive ODIs, but the class of 2002 eclipsed them by losing 23 matches on the trot.

FOOTBALL
In the Premier League era two teams, Derby County and Sunderland, stand out as being particularly inept. The Black Cats side of 2002-03 were relegated with, a then, record low of 19 points and lost 15 consecutive matches between January and May. The Rams managed to avoid breaking the record for consecutive defeats, but did set a new benchmark by going 32 games without a win.

BASKETBALL
In the 1972/73 season, the Philadelphia 76ers lost a scarcely credible 73 of their 82 games, prompting their rivals’ fans to nickname them the 73ers.