Rugby

How Six Nations opponents have "figured out" Ireland

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

06:01 27 Feb 2019


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The 2019 Six Nations so far have been somewhat frustrating for Ireland.

The chastening defeat to England in Dublin was a bad start. But it has been followed by wins. However, those victories against Scotland and Italy have not been convincing.

So is it a case of under-par performances or have opponents started to identify areas to impact Ireland?

Ex-Ireland captain Keith Wood and former head coach Eddie O'Sullivan joined us to analyse.

"We have been figured out a bit as Woodie said. England shut us down and they exposed our 13th man in the line defence with kicks in the back-field," Eddie explained.

He added that Scotland and Italy couldn't capitalise but a "better team might expose us more". Eddie also feels Ireland's attack has been "figured out".

Examples

"Teams have figured out how to get in front of us," he said, pointing to a "classic example" against Italy.

"Teams are figuring out if they can contain us for 2-3 phases off the starter plays and get off the line, we go into one-off runners mode with no chip-ons and no animation. And they do know our out-of-jail plays."

Keith also picked out specific areas where Ireland have been stymied.

"They slow down the ruck ball. That's the first point. Conor Murray is going in digging for ball. He's having to step over people, wading over people virtually every time he's going in there," he said.

"He wants cleaner ball all the time. The opposition line-speed has changed radically. So the hard push-up from 7 and outside 7, 10-13, in the face of every player that's there. And they're not missing a whole load of tackles. That's the second point.

"For our kicking game which is a big attacking ploy for us, they've been shielding all our chasing runners. Since the Autumn, that has changed. If you look now, when the ball is kicked up, you'll see six people in between the catcher and Ireland's runners.

"And the last point is there seems to be an increase in the dominant tackles."

Watch that discussion about Ireland and their opponents at the top of the page.

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Eddie O'Sullivan England France Ireland Italy Keith Wood Off The Ball Rugby Six Nations Wales

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