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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 29 February, 2020

'There are multiple relatively easy fixes' but approach must change for Ireland

Players respond to freedom, says Andy Dunne on this week’s podcast.

Irish players in the wake of the defeat on Saturday.
Irish players in the wake of the defeat on Saturday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

SO, WHERE NOW for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland?

After a resounding defeat in Cardiff on Saturday, Ireland finished the Six Nations tournament in third place and are left with plenty of questions ahead of the World Cup later this year. 

“My real concern is the reaction now by Joe and his coaching team and the players,” Andy Dunne tells Murray Kinsella on this week’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly in the wake of a disappointing couple of months for Irish rugby. 

“My concern is are they going to be very, very militant about maintaining that style of play and idea that if they execute it better it will remain successful. I don’t believe it will. 

“My lines I’m harping on about, there’s a lack of economy in it. I think if you keep asking your forwards to run into brick walls, it’s fine when it works. When it ceases to work it starts to sap morale.

“The [Ireland] forward pack carried 155 times, I think, between eight of them in 80-odd minutes and the aggregate carry was 144 metres.

“So there’s a tipping point in that type of play where a guy in the front five who’s also been asked to lift in the lineout, been asked to scrummage under great scrutiny… who is asked to stand up and get around the corner and run into brick walls repeatedly. Who’s asked to win rucks, defends rucks, be a contributor in the defensive line in all sorts of positions across the field.

“There’s only so much people can do. 

“They can do that for a big game every once in a while when they’ve had a bit of time off. 

It’s just not realistic, no matter how primed you are as an athlete and I think there’s a lack of joy in playing that way. Not that guys are going to go on the record and say that as players. Their job is to play games and take money and be a professional and take everything seriously and walk around with a scowl on your face, but people respond to  being allowed freedom.

“And it doesn’t mean you play like the Harlem Globetrotters. But my biggest concern; I think there are multiple relatively easy fixes, but the nature of Joe and nature of how he coaches is that he’s very controlling.

“And he wants to control every facet of play and to retreat from that may feel like conceding that his tactics to date have been found out.”

Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne dissect Ireland’s disappointing Six Nations campaign, and discuss the pros and cons of rugby’s new law proposals in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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