Ireland suffered an 11 point defeat to England this weekend
Following another deflating defeat, Ireland will have to watch on as England compete for the Six Nations and a Grand Slam.
Granted, Ireland fought valiantly to the end, with close calls from Rob Henshaw and Josh Van Der Flier on England's try line that could have turned the tide of the game.
But mulling over those permutations only serves to prolong the grieving process. The dream is over and now Irish rugby must do what many defeated Irish politicians will be contemplating this morning - reflect, review and rebuild.
Analyisying the reasons why Ireland lost yesterday, Newstalk's George Hook has constructed an interesting theory.
Speaking to Off The Ball's Richie McCormack, the established rugby pundit said that the Irish team is in an age of stagnation at the moment.
"We lost because the same faults remain. So many of these players could be better if they were allowed to play a game that gave vent to their talent. This is a game in which where they are structured beyond belief."
Hook added that, with two games remaining that now mean very little, there is no better time to blood some more young players and transition some of the older players out of the side.
However, he added that while Schmidt may well pick a side such as that and play in a slightly more attacking style, he's unlikely to ever move too far away from the way he believes the game should be played: "Our philosophy is play safe don't make a mistake and defend, and we'll never beat any body [like that]."
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Stating that he doesn't think that there would be a change in coach, Hook added that "I don't think [he'll change his philosophy]. That is the problem for us. The rest of the world will be advancing, the rest of the world will be changing. [Guy] Novès will be making France better, [Eddie] Jones will be making England better, [Vern] Cotter will be making Scotland better, whoever the new Italian coach is will be making them better. We will not get better."
Hook went on to criticise both Joe Schmidt and the IRFU performance director David Nucifora, saying they have too much control over Irish Rugby.
"We have handed over our game, that we have loved for 150 years, that has done us proud for 150 years, we've handed it over to two guys (Schmidt and Nucifora) and said 'off you go lads, do what you like', we have no input into it.
"Those of us outside, the external critics as Schmidt talks about, we're not supposed to speak either, we're supposed to sit dumb and allow what we see in front of us to happen. Allow poor selection, limited tactical appreciation, an inability to score tries [...] What am I supposed to do, sit here and say 'God isn't it great?'".