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'I was shouting, 'Kick the points''! | BOD and Wood on Sexton's decisions

Former Irish captains Brian O’Driscoll and Keith Wood joined Monday Night Rugby on Off The Ball...



Rugby

'I was shouting, 'Kick the points''! | BOD and Wood on Sexton's decisions


Former Irish captains Brian O’Driscoll and Keith Wood joined Monday Night Rugby on Off The Ball to discuss Johnny Sexton's decisions against France on Saturday.

Ireland faced France in the final match of the 2020 Six Nations Championship; a match which could have seen Ireland win the title.

While Ireland only needed to win by six points after Cian Healy scored his try, captain Sexton decided to push for the try in the final minute of the first half, rather than kick the easy three points that would have put them one point behind France at half time.

That decision could have affected the momentum of both teams on either side of half time.

Both Wood and O’Driscoll said that they would not have made the same decision that Sexton did.

“Each to their own, and Ireland have had a good bit of success with that,” O’Driscoll said.

“I just couldn’t understand the thinking behind it, when obviously the try bonus wasn’t important.

“It was about getting the game won.”

O’Driscoll reiterated the point that, particularly in test matches, it is vital to win the game first before worrying about winning margins.

“Yes, it was six points, but first of all just think about winning it first and foremost and scorelines can kind of take care of themselves,” O’Driscoll said.

“When you are not chasing tries, you just have to stay in touch.

“Games like that are all about momentum and trying to turn the screw a little bit.”

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. Jonathan Sexton of Ireland during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Sandra Ruhaut/Sportsfile

Wood agreed with O’Driscoll, saying that he would definitely have opted to kick for goal.

“I was shouting at the telly, [saying] ‘kick the points’,” Wood said.

“I would not have called for that decision.”

Despite his disagreement with the ultimate decision, Wood believes that the players have to be the ones to make those calls.

“They have to feel and understand where the energy is,” Wood said.

“They took the view that they would be able to get over from it; but I don’t know that we had shown that to that stage.

“We were holding onto the ball, but we weren’t threatening anywhere near as much.

“We were almost getting there, but we were a bit sloppy. So, we hadn’t shown that that could have been the case.

“I thought getting in with on point down is a good fillip, and you could say ‘ok, we’ve done that, let’s start again’.”

Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton kicks a conversion during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton kicks a conversion during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Sportsfile

Ireland's decision gave up the momentum

Those so-called ‘championship minutes’ often play a huge role in the momentum of the game going into the second half.

O’Driscoll believes that France were boosted by the fact that they were able to hold Ireland out in those dying minutes of the first half.

“The difference between France holding Ireland out at the end of the first half and going in with great energy and enthusiasm… versus our feeling was so vast,” O’Driscoll said.

“If you could have knocked over that penalty, you are one point behind; the pep is in your step.

“Ireland hadn’t done a huge amount, they hadn’t taken a huge amount of chances, but yet they were right in the mix.

“I saw Johnny Sexton refer to it as ‘a brave call’; I don’t know if I would have used that exact description, but they have done well with it in the past.”

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Brian O'Driscoll England France Harry Byrne Ireland Italy Johnny Sexton Keith Wood Ross Byrne Scotland Six Nations Wales