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Rugby

"We're hitting brick walls" | Alan Quinlan on Ireland's dull approach

Neil Treacy
Neil Treacy

11:01 15 Feb 2021

Alan Quinlan joined Ger and Eoin on Monday's OTB AM, to pick apart the pieces following Ireland's 15-13 defeat to France at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

For the second week in a row, Ireland enjoyed the lion's share of possession, but couldn't make it count; they've had 322 carries across their opening couple of games, more than 50 more than the next highest team Scotland.

Ireland's inefficiency in attack has been a lingering issue since 2019 under Joe Schmidt, and is evidently continuing into the Andy Farrell era. Only Wales have had fewer than Ireland's 11 clean breaks in the opening two rounds. France have 14 more clean breaks, despite carrying the ball just 191 times (131 times fewer than Ireland).

Having watched Ireland's attack fail to cause France any real problems during yesterday's game, Alan Quinlan says Ireland's kick-first approach is causing the players to become too scripted, and not playing the game they see in front of them.

He cited an early example of Ireland's attack when they stole a lineout on the half way line, but despite having a huge numerical advantage in the backline, Billy Burns launched a kick into French territory, rather than counter attack.

"We kicked the ball to much yesterday. We kicked well at times, and then kicked really poor at other times.

If you want to build that tempo and pressure and really stretch France and make them put in the tackles, you've got to have more cutting edge in attack. That one from Billy Burns was glaringly obvious. Ireland turned the ball and it went to him and he kicked.

"It's a communication thing as well from Henshaw and Ringrose to try and move the ball. France were very narrow in defence and there was a great opportunity for Ireland to put the ball through the hands and we probably didn't do it enough.

"It's game management and identifying the options that are in front of you," he said.

The contrast in styles was highlighted in particular by the first French try scored by Charles Ollivon, in which Fabien Galthie's side went from touchline to touchline and back again, keeping the play alive with a number of offloads.

"Look at their first try when they ran at us at there were three or four offloads in there. We don't seem to be able to do that, we're hitting brick walls and we don't seem to be able to get over the gainline with that initial point of contact.

"Our gameplan was limited yesterday and when we moved it wide we were drifting across a lot. Being underpowered doesn't help. You had the feeling a little bit that the game would have suited Bundee Aki because of his extra power and aggression, but it's frustrating. Maybe that's as good as we can be? I know they'll look back and it'll be frustrating because there were times to put the ball through the hands" he added.

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6 Nations 2021 Alan Quinlan Andy Farrell Billy Burns Irish Rugby

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