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Are Ireland closing the gap on England? | Andy Dunne on Autumn rugby

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

12:42 24 Nov 2020

Former Leinster Rugby  player Andy Dunne joined OTB AM to discuss Ireland's loss to England, and cut a frustrated figure regarding Ireland's tactics.

While Dunne found positives in Ireland's physicality and defensive fight, he was bemused to find the same tactics employed against the English that ended in defeat in their last two meetings.

Ireland-England rugby analysis

"Judging by Saturday, I would say we are the same distance," said Dunne on whether Ireland are closing the gap on England or falling further behind.

"I would be astonished if the next time we go and play England we adopt the same tactics. We have been fairly significantly hammered three times in a row and we have adopted the same approach all three times.

"I can understand that approach the second time, in that we'll try the same tactics and execute better. That happened in Twickenham pre-World Cup and then happened again in Twickenham back in February. We have now done it four times in a row.

"Simply put, it has to be abandoned as a tactic to try and outmuscle them, physically. This England side have the measure of us if we play the same way before. It was so evident that they just let us have the ball because they knew we were going to run into them for hundreds of rucks with mininal metres gained.

"They were quite happy to play without the ball because we are very little threat.

"The most heartening side of it was Jacob Stockdale's try because we showed a little variation. I would love to see us show that type of innovation and courage in attack coming straight away and to do it throughout the game."

Turning Japanese?

Dunne believes that Ireland can adopt a tactic used against them to outwit Eddie Jones and his men.

"I would love to see us play like Japan did against us in the World Cup. By being unpredictable and playing at a very high speed, by keeping the ball off the floor, by using a variation in our attacking kicks. By generally creating havoc by being unpredictable.

"What we have done against England has been extremely predictable and we have just been outmuscled."

Positives

But all is not lost, as Dunne highlighted some of the positives for Andy Farrell's players and coaching team.

"The choice of personnel has been a refreshing change; the likes of James Ryan getting a run at the captaincy is positive for the medium to long-term. I suspect he may revert to Sexton for the Six Nations in 2021 if fitness allows.

"In terms of our physical effort and our attitude, I also think that has been top quality. With the wrong tactics, there was no lack of endeavour. To a man, they were physically brave and never gave up in that physical fight.

"The defensive line was really aggressive; Andy Farrell has the rugby league background and has worked with Gatland, with the Lions.

"There were very much hints of that in our defence and showing line speeds.

"They were huge positives - I just want to see more creativity in attack."

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