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'He seems to be getting pleasure of a sadistic nature from implementing this gameplan'

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey picked up the pieces – all of them — from Ireland’s defeat at Twickenham on Thursday’s ‘The42 Rugby Weekly’.

England head coach Eddie Jones.
England head coach Eddie Jones.
Image: PA

IRELAND HAD THE right idea at Twickenham but, after 10 minutes of slugging with England, it went out the window — and so too did their chances of earning any sort of result.

Those were the thoughts of both Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella who joined Gavan Casey for an all-too-familiar post-loss autopsy, and one which consisted of about an hour of deep-diving and soul-searching.

Every aspect of Ireland’s play — which ranged from ineffectual to bad — was assessed on today’s Rugby Weekly, as was Chris Ashton’s character assassination of James Lowe on BBC Radio 5 Live. Ireland’s matchday squad to face Georgia — and more pertinently, how Andy Farrell arrived at it — was put under the magnifying glass, too.

But at some point, to get a complete picture of Ireland’s defeat, some kudos had to be paid to last weekend’s hosts who would appear to have not only Ireland’s number of late, but practically everybody’s.

Discussing their kick-heavy, possession-averse, defensively watertight current gameplan under Eddie Jones, Jackman was asked by presenter Gavan whether or not England even “want the ball” in their current guise. “Not really, no,” came the response.

“Eddie Jones is unbelievable. He’s reinvented himself six or seven times. And I know he rubs some people up the wrong way, but he seems to be getting pleasure of a sadistic nature from implementing this gameplan,” Jackman laughed.

“Like, against Georgia and Italy, when they were obviously way superior to both teams — and in the Italy game where they needed points to put pressure on Ireland; if you look at that game, they don’t really change their strategy from minute zero to minute 80. And it was similar against Georgia.

“You could argue that if they would have pulled the trigger and thrown off the shackles, they could have won by more in both games, and you’d probably be right, but he’s just saying, ‘Yeah, well, I want to win a World Cup and against the best teams, this is the model, and we’re just going to copy and paste it.’

He doesn’t have to change his gameplan like Ireland do. So, Ireland could have a gameplan for Scotland, for Wales, but have to adapt to play France or England. Whereas England, given the tools they have — and they have a guy like Jonny May who can score out of nothing; they have brilliant half-backs, a very good scrum, very good maul, guys like Itoje who can change game — can probably stick to the one gameplan and try to do it to everybody. They can put the pressure on the opposition to try and find a way to beat it. But because they do it every single week, it’s highly likely that you’ll find too many cracks.

Asked by Gavan if the gameplan currently deployed by Jones is “the full plan, part of a plan, or the plan for now” until somebody figures it out circa 2022, former Ireland hooker Jackman said that the Australian head coach will be “way ahead of the curve”.

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“This is his rugby vision for 2020 but you can be sure that he’s looking at what the trends are going to be in 2021,” Jackman added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, in 2021, he uses a slightly different philosophy because he thinks this one has weaknesses or has become too predictable.

“But my point is that in a competition or within a season, he tends to basically go, ‘Lookit, this is how we play, these are the numbers we need to hit.’ And it was interesting, I don’t know if you read during the week but he’s after getting involved with some professor of science in Liverpool around an app that measures work rate off the ball. He’s chasing that now.

“I think they’ll evolve for sure but again, I would also say he has the roster; he has the tools. He’s lucky that he has such a good squad but I think he’s doing a very good job of keeping them on their toes and making them consistent. I think they would have won the World Cup if there hadn’t been such an injury [crisis] at tighthead. South Africa score late in the game but that game hinged on the scrum, and six scrum penalties.”

england-training-session-the-lensbury-hotel-25th-november-2020 Jones during England training on Wednesday. Source: PA

Added Murray Kinsella: “I think they’re the best team in the world — I know the lost the final but I totally agree (with Jackman). I think they have such an incredible squad of world-class players, really, in most positions, and they’re unbelievably good at handling the pressure moments where you put them into a position.

“Think of that Ross Byrne kick early in the game, diagonally to his right. Ireland had a nice little set-piece play which has built to this point, and they’re trying to get in behind Jonny May as he sweeps over to his right-hand side. But England just handled it with so much composure: May passes infield to [Elliot] Daly, and then he kind of offloads straight back out to Henry Slade, and he boots it clear up the left. And you’re thinking, ‘How did they get out of that?’ I honestly thought it could be an Ireland try with a loose offload. And other teams probably would have [conceded].

Against this England team, realistically, you have to be unbelievably good to win. I don’t think Ireland’s squad, the quality they have, is good enough to beat England — particularly away — when they’re missing Dave Kilcoyne, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson — he was only on the bench having just come back; Garry Ringrose who’s their most important back, Johnny Sexton who’s the captain and easily their best out-half; Jordan Larmour is another one and I’m sure I’m missing more. I don’t think Ireland were going to beat them without those guys. I just didn’t see that squad that went over to Twickenham beating England.

They might have had a better chance had they adhered to the gameplan that they themselves explored to some success early doors. To hear the lads’ thoughts on that, every other aspect of Ireland’s performance, and Andy Farrell’s selection for Georgia, listen to The42 Rugby Weekly on your podcast app or on Spotify.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey pick up the pieces — all of them — after Ireland’s Twickenham defeat:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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