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"Ireland changed policy from three points to seven points" | ROG on All Blacks win

Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara joined Monday's Off The Ball for a special episode of the Class...


"Ireland changed policy from three points to seven points" | ROG on All Blacks win

Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara joined Monday's Off The Ball for a special episode of the Classic Game Club, reviewing Ireland's famous 2016 win over the All Blacks in Chicago.

The pair found many angles as to why the game was a shade underappreciated and the shame that the backline with Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw in tandem didn't get more time together.

Munster legend O'Gara paid compliment to the "squad effort" while Ireland icon O'Driscoll was happy that "there was a bit of something for everyone in that game," from a team perspective.

The former Munster out-half typically had a close eye on the kicking and was happy with what he saw across the entire backline.

Changed Policy

One notable aspect against the All Blacks and possibly a turning point for the team that day was the focus on tries rather than kicking for goal. Joe Schmidt's men became only the fifth side to ever put 40 points on New Zealand.

"It was noticeable that was the game where Ireland changed policy from three points to seven points," says O'Gara.

"They had done data going out there and research about how many points were needed to beat the All Blacks. So three points, six points, nine points wasn't really going to add up."

"They went after them by getting tries and they got five that day which made all the difference. You could look at that day there were examples where we even discuss it to this day about whether you take the three points when they are on.

"They actually went after them at lineout time and they got a huge reward from that. Ultimately it won the game for them because of their lineout maul."

Tactical kicking

While O'Gara did spot errors in possession, that possibly still exist in the way the team plays, overall the tactical kicking game across the entire backline drew praise from the La Rochelle head coach.

"Ireland did get in trouble in that game you could see when they were playing between the ten-yard lines. There as a miscommunication between Johnny and Jordi Murphy, a ball didn't go where it intended, penalty New Zealand", said O'Gara.

"You could see at times, they were holding on to the ball too much, tactical kicking still works and it worked really well.

"It was a great exhibition of box-kicking from Conor Murray. I think [Simon] Zebo really put his body on the line, [Andrew] Trimble as well. it makes a massive difference if the kicks are accurate"

"We had probably a full package of backs kicking really well when their moment came. Be it Conor, Johnny, Joey, be it Trimble, Zebo and Rob Kearney as well.

"You look down the line to the future the way attacking kicks are being used, by England in particular," noted O'Gara about the future of the kicking in the game.

In Soldier Field against the All Blacks in 2016, all of Ireland's use of the boot was, to the eyes of one of the greatest kickers in rugby history, one of excellence across the board.

"From restarts, to kicking at goal, to line kicking, it was of a really, really high standard that day."

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