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'I can't see the sense of it' | Why is Ireland's attacking play so poor?

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

19:17 17 Feb 2021

As Ireland's attacking play continues to confound, Ireland international Niamh Briggs and journalist Ruaidhri O'Connor joined us to discuss what is going on.

Briggs was concerned by Ireland's 'very lateral, very flat' play and believes that Ireland's backs will be frustrated with what they are being asked to do.

Ireland struggle

"If you look at their attack, when you look at phase play, it is almost like they come really late around the corner," Briggs said.

"Their hips are facing the touchline, but there is nobody there to straighten the line, so you are just depending on Garry Ringrose to try and tuck the ball under his arm and have a step back inside.

"But if I'm defending Ireland, I would nearly be giving them the ball and let them make mistakes and live off that, as opposed to feeling fear when they have it because they don't exploit it.

"I felt they looked to get the ball to the edge but never moved forwards. So Billy Burns passes to Robbie Henshaw, he doesn't move any steps forward, to Ringrose who does the same, and so on.

"The first game, I thought that Ireland were chasing their tail a bit because they were down a player, so they were late coming around the corner all the time.

"But it must be a ploy, a way that they want to attack but it makes very little sense to me because you are either depending on Ringrose or your winger to get the ball in very little space and create some magic.

"I can't see the sense of it, with players like Hugo Keenan, Garry Ringrose, James Lowe, Keith Earls, Jordan Larmour - if you get them set up early and they are straight then they can run inside or out.

At the moment, they don't have that option."

Garryowens galore

Ruaidhri O'Connor believes that the tactics employed by Ireland in possession were somewhat baffling, and do not augur especially well for the future.

"These are excellent rugby players, who have been the best player on their team at all levels, who have been able to do all the things they have been asked to do. Suddenly, they get to the Six Nations and they are not executing at all.

"I do think that this coaching ticket has made an effort to remove some of the structure around the way they are playing, but the players don't seem to be adapting to that particularly well. They look a little bit lost with that responsibility.

"The attacking strategy looks a bit muddled me; I don't understand why we're kicking Garryowens off first phase - why would you go off the top and kick a Garryowen? That is something we haven't seen for 30 or 40 years as an attacking tactic. The forecast was pretty bad, but even still you should trust your skills to try and test the defence in another way.

"They kept doing it, despite France coping pretty well - if they are a kicking team then they are a kicking team, but France were a better kicking team on Sunday."

Watch the full discussion above, including what stopped Ireland scoring the James Lowe try.

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