Inspired by Joe Schmidt’s successors coach Andy Farrell and his assistants after the last World Cup, Ireland changed their style of play and became proud of their standing play.
Until a few years ago, all French teams knew exactly what to expect when facing their Irish opponents: a game based on possession and occupation of the field, offering countless candles that hit the halfbacks. As soon as they entered the opponent’s half of the field, the Irish teams started from near or close to the opener’s endless percussion concert – when it was not a question of the malls starting after it was touched. The opposing team gives in. It was not uncommon to see sequences of more than 25 games with regular passages on the ground. An effective game, powerful, but terribly boring and predictable. So when they did not win this straight fight, the Irish teams did not have a B plan. Leinster, Munster, and XV of Clover lined up in the same pattern. But that was before
Games with over 200 assists
Before Andy Farrell took over the helm of the XV of Clover from Joe Schmidt to start his Velvet Revolution. Velvet, because it did not cause a major collateral victim: obviously (although he withdrew from the fight against France due to a grip injury), Sexton is still the master of this team, as well as executives such as Keller and Furlong. , Ryan, Conan, Aki or Ringgros are still there. Strictly speaking, the only “victim” of this change is Connor Murray, who is known for the quality of his game at the bottom of the occupation, but much less speed and ejector than Gibson-Park. So the players are the same. But they will not play the same way now.
Since last year, Ireland has been focusing on standing play, defensive passing and quick releases. Leinster plays the same way. Gone are the days of 30 floor passes. Ireland is more dangerous and unpredictable than ever, despite their desire to hold on: last November, Farrell’s men had 63% possession and 70% occupancy against All Blacks. All in all 204 passes over their opponents (21 vs. 27). Next week, again. With plenty of time to take 210 passes, the Irish beat the Argentines (53-7) by holding the ball more than 57% of the time.
Roses among the clovers
This revolution was not led by former England international Andy Farrell alone. His aide in charge of the attack is another former player of the XV of the Rose, according to Jonathan Sexton, who played a key role in the Irish game: “Mike takes care of the fullbacks and game launches. We really made great progress last year as we really took ownership of the game plan. Andy has given us a lot in the offensive area as well. Both have their own relays in the provinces: Graham Rowntree as Munster’s forward coach, Stuart Lancaster as Leinster’s quarterback.
Technicians still rely on strong ball carriers (Furlong, Porter, Ryan, Doris, Aki), but now have no regulatory framework. In short, Ireland changed their game and they seem to enjoy it a lot. Unbelief.
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