Mike Rowbottom ©ITG

Whatever it was that Arsene Wenger said to his Arsenal players at half-time during Sunday's Premier League match at Anfield - at which they were already 2-0 down to Liverpool - patently failed to work.

Forty five minutes and two more goals to the bad later, the 67-yeaar-old Frenchman who has managed this North London club since October 1996 tried to put the turn of events into words.

"We were not at the right level from the first minute - physically, technically and mentally - and we were punished," said Wenger.

"Today our performance was not acceptable. It is true today we were an easy opponent for Liverpool.

"Our performance was absolutely disastrous."

Where do you go, as a team coach/manager, in adversity?

On Tuesday night, BBC’s Radio 5 live put out a programme devoted to the long career of the now 81-year-old former captain of England, Jimmy Armfield.

At one point Armfield reflects on the task he had in 1974 of taking over as manager of Leeds United after the mercurial Brian Clough, who had himself taken over from the man who had shaped and nurtured the club as a mighty trophy-winning force, Don Revie, had been sacked after just 44 days in the job.

Clough, who had made no secret of his disdain for Leeds’ style down the years, publicly using words to describe them such as "dirty" and "cheating", reportedly told his new players during one of his first training sessions: "You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly."

Message deleted - Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger, second left, looks on as his side turn a 2-0 half-time deficit into a a 4-0 full-time deficit against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday ©Getty Images
Message deleted - Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger, second left, looks on as his side turn a 2-0 half-time deficit into a a 4-0 full-time deficit against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday ©Getty Images

Clough’s methods worked at Derby County beforehand. They worked at Nottingham Forest afterwards. But they didn’t work at Leeds United.

"I let Maurice Lindley - the assistant manager - pick the team for the first match after my appointment as Leeds boss," Armfield recalled.

"We sat down in somewhere near Roundhay Park and he said his words.

"I watched the players and I could tell they were looking at me.

"Eventually I said: 'I'll just say one thing to you - I will not make my mind up about you all until I've been here a bit of time.

"'I'm the total opposite of Brian.

"‘Just answer me one question, why is this title-winning team full of internationals next to the bottom of the table?'"

A year later the team reached the European Cup final, losing narrowly and, many believe, unfairly to Bayern Munich.

For managers and coaches in team sports, it’s all about getting the message right.

Message received - Leeds United's manager in 1975, Jimmy Armfield, left, got through to his players after Brian Clough had turned them off and left them near the bottom of the league ©Getty Images
Message received - Leeds United's manager in 1975, Jimmy Armfield, left, got through to his players after Brian Clough had turned them off and left them near the bottom of the league ©Getty Images

On Saturday night at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium, Glenn Moore, coach of the New Zealand women’s rugby union team, had a bit of a job on his hands at half-time during the Women’s Rugby World Cup final.

By that point the defending champions, England, had taken a 17-5 lead after their disciplined forward pack had allowed them to exert an increasing domination during the first 40 minutes - albeit that an opportunist try by Toka Natua had reduced the margin at the break to 17-10.

Whatever it was that Moore said to his players patently worked .

The Black Ferns returned to the pitch with renewed concentration and vigour, eventually reclaiming the trophy they had previously won on four consecutive occasions as they came back to win a switchback final by 41-32.

So what was it he said exactly?

Moore gave a calm summation after the final: "We expected them to come out like they did and we stayed very calm at half-time.

"Our messaging was clear.

"England were enjoying something like 71/72 per cent territory and 65 per cent possession so that was putting us under a lot of pressure and we were having to put in a lot of tackles at the wrong end of the park…

"It is always challenging when you are in that mode because you are at risk of giving away penalties so our messaging was around field position and holding onto possession…

"It was a calm camp at half-time and they knew what had to be done and they went out there and executed it under pressure really well."

Mixed message? Glenn Moore, head coach of New Zealand's Black Ferns, displays the Women's Rugby World Cup they regained against England in Belfast after recovering from 17-10 down at half-time ©Getty Images
Mixed message? Glenn Moore, head coach of New Zealand's Black Ferns, displays the Women's Rugby World Cup they regained against England in Belfast after recovering from 17-10 down at half-time ©Getty Images

But Natua, the young lock forward who ended the match with a hat-trick of tries, appeared to have missed the messages of measured re-calibration:

"At half time, our coach just said, it’s now or never and imagine that our family was behind us on defence and that we needed to protect them and not allow anyone to get through."

Coaching doesn’t get more visceral than that.

But whether the message was to stay calm and work on a game plan, or to defend as if your nearest and dearest were being attacked, somehow the right result was obtained – as far as the New Zealanders, semi-professionals up against a full-time England squad were concerned.

The right result was also obtained for women’s rugby by a tournament that ticked a huge range of new boxes.

Ireland 2017 set a record total attendance of 45,412 - the pool stages in Dublin sold out with 17,516 attending matches, and the Belfast final attracted 17,115 spectators.

New records were also set in terms of viewing figures – a peak audience of 3.2 million tuned into France 2 for the France v England semi-final, and a peak of 2.65 million turned into ITV in the UK to watch the final live.

This latter figure was the largest single audience for a Women’s Rugby World Cup final, and almost half of the audience for the last men’s Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham in 2015.

According to World Rugby, Ireland 2017 was the most socially engaged World Rugby event of 2017, generating record video views, social engagement rates and website traffic, inspiring a new, younger audience.

The Women's Rugby World Cup set several records ©Getty Images
The Women's Rugby World Cup set several records ©Getty Images

The detailed figures are the kind to get officials hot under the blazer:

There were 45 million views across official tournament platforms, making it the best-performing World Rugby event of the year and the biggest since Rugby World Cup 2015.

A total of 73 per cent of social media engagement was under 24, while a 53/47 per cent audience split between female and male fans, highlighted the appeal of the action to both females and males.

There were 63,000 uses of #WRWC2017 and in total, while 50,000 new fans joined World Rugby’s social media communities

There were 600,000 unique users visiting www.rwcwomens.com over the duration of the tournament from 223 different territories, generating four times as many page views as WRWC 2014

To top things off, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont hailed Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 as a "special and ground-breaking" event.

In November, the World Rugby Council will consider the 2017-2025 women’s rugby plan, an action plan "to build a stronger, sustainable game from the bottom up and throughout a highly collaborative process, unions and players alike are welcoming the advances", according to World Rugby.

Beaumont added: "We are determined to ensure that the future of women’s 15s competition is bright, exciting and sustainable on and off the field. That is why the women’s plan consultation process is so important."

For women’s rugby, it now seems to be a case of; watch this space.