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Rugby

'Not entertaining, not effective' | How can Ireland's attack improve?

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

20:50 22 Feb 2021


Andy Dunne joined Monday Night Rugby and spoke about the need for Ireland to evolve their attacking prowess under Andy Farrell.

Dunne believes that Ireland can look to Super Rugby - in the form of Canterbury Crusaders - for guidance. Their entire operation is based on having less of the ball, the 'complete reverse' of the Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell eras respectively.

For Dunne, inspiration came from a strange source.

"I had a laugh on Saturday night as I was watching The Voice, where someone was absolutely butchering a Frank Sinatra song. It is a case of a young singer hits 11 notes, whereas Sinatra would sing one.

"My point is that 28 phases in the opposition 22 is not particularly entertaining nor effective. I would rather see one or two phases of rugby where we slice a team open, much like the French did with us with limited territory and progression the last day."

Ireland squad

With the squad for Scotland and Italy confirmed, would Dunne feel a change of personnel have helped oil the gears?

"I would have liked to see Jack Carty and/or Harry Byrne in and around the environment, but then again the environment has to be looking to embrace their skillset. Otherwise, there is not a whole lot of point in adding in new personnel to do a job that doesn't suit them.

"In a perfect world I would have liked to have seen a couple of changes like that, but I would rather see a change in approach as opposed to changes in personnel. I would like to see small, practical overall changes in our attack rather than personnel changes."

Spontaneity

Dunne would like to see more spontaneity in the Ireland backs, to inspire a little bit of joy in the hearts of Irish fans.

"The skill of offloading is doubtless a skill, but it is not a difficult skill for top players to adopt. I don't think it is something they even need to learn. What happens is they need to be given greater licence to do it.

"That willingness to be alive to the moment does not require the laptop, hours of video analysis or attention-to-detail. It requires game appreciation and a more subtle game awareness; an ability to take a risk as a player, and a willingness to do that."

Dunne credited the early-2000s experience at Leinster under Matt Williams as a time of free-flowing rugby that had not been achieved through rote learning.

This continued into Michael Cheika's era to a memorable Heineken Cup try in 2006, which could be instructional to the Ireland coaching team.

"The ball was taken down to Contepomi, fed it inside to Horgan, who passed back to Contepomi. He side-stepped the full-back and, one-handed while he was falling, handed it to O'Driscoll who ran onto it like a rocket and scored under the posts.

"I can guarantee you it wasn't a prescribed play but it required O'Driscoll to change his support line, anticipate that Contepomi might be able to do that. Then there was this almost unconscious play. It is there within all top players when the weights lifted off their shoulders."

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