Pass it, would you?

One area of our weekend’s analysis that led us to a bit of further study was the absence of any degree of passing from the Irish backrow.  Collectively they scored a whopping one point for passing.  O’Mahony got an offload away and O’Brien put a nice pass into Rob Kearney who kicked well from the space afforded him, but one point was scratched off for O’Brien’s failed offload to Murray which turned the ball over to France.

It’s been a long held view of ours that Ireland have never developed any sort of game where forwards are trusted to pass or offload the ball, with the carrier invariably hitting the deck promptly and anyone in support waiting to hit (or inspect!) the ruck rather than take a possible pass.  It’s in stark contrast with the way Leinster played over the last few seasons, in particular when Nathan Hines – a superb ball player – was in the side.

Do the stats back up such a view?  Oh me oh my, yes.  We looked at the number of passes given by forwards over the course of the Six Nations so far.  Ireland come out bottom of the table, but what’s particularly eye-catching is just how far they are behind even the second-last team.  Anyone wondering how Ireland have failed to turn pressure into points in the opposition’s 22 has a pretty good clue: Ireland’s forwards’ inability or unwillingness to pass the ball makes them an easy read for defenders.

It’s a scathing indictment of Ireland’s attack that their forwards pass so little, especially so given they have a backrow of O’Mahony, Heaslip and O’Brien.  Heaslip and O’Mahony in particular are exceptionally skilful players and how more cannot be made of their skillsets is staggering.  Are there mitigating circumstances?  Well, you could argue that the weather has been pretty awful, with both home games swept away in a deluge, but the conditions haven’t exactly been tropical for any of the other teams either.  Ireland lack tight forwards who are naturally good handlers, and it’s a pity Dan Tuohy’s season has been broken up by injury, because he is probably the best we have – not that he’d have been picked in any case.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been watching to see Italy top the log.  Their commitment to moving the point of attack has been admirable, even if they lost their way in the middle of the series.  Sergio Parrisse’s total alone over three games is higher than all of Ireland’s.  England finish a surprising second, but their total is skewed by their performance against Scotland when they were feeling adventurous.  They’ve shut up shop since, settling for three-pointers to win games, although they have the highest number of passes by reserves, reinforcing the suggestion that their bench has been a significant factor in putting them on the verge of a slam.

To compound the misery, bear in mind that this is probably the lowest quality Six Nations in living memory, despite a good first weekend, dominated by treacly rugby played on roly-poly pitches.  The potential grand slammers can barely score a try.  It puts Ireland at the bottom of the bottom in terms of a desire to play attacking, incisive rugby.

The full horror is shown in the tables below.  Read each entry as the number of passes given by the team on the left in their match against the team above.

Source: ESPN

Source: ESPN



  1. Anonymous

     /  March 12, 2013

    Parisse outpasses Irish forwards in just 3 games. That is a killer stat. Love it.

  2. One would venture it is an ailment not limited to the forwards. A lot of our back moves seem also to have been ended/turned over through a lack of distribution. The Scotland match clearly showed that.

    There seems to be a clear lack of focus on the timing of runs and support runners in the Irish set-up. This has been a fundamental element of the successful Leinster game plan (the comparison with the way Leinster play is a valid one but it always ends up with threads descending into provincial tit-for-tats). In its absence, line breaks inevitably end up in turnovers and players take the ball into to contact because there is no good offload option (i.e. someone with forward momentum attacking the gainline with a supporting line). Combined with our static ball receivers, it makes for predictable stuff that is not so hard to defend against.

    • Haven’t looked at the total passes stats, but will try and do a tot this evening, and we’ll post them in the comments section if we do. I suspect you’re right, and we will find that our backline doesn’t quite make up the 69-pass deficit on Italy over the four games!

  3. Len

     /  March 12, 2013

    That table is pretty shocking and really highlights how one dimensional our game plan has become.

  4. abitofshoepie

     /  March 12, 2013

    Good analysis that sums up our current playing style…..route 1. Watched some Super 15 games at the weekend, every player seemed to be capable of running and offloading. The contrast with the 6 nations games was unreal.

    • Not so sure about the relevance of that comparison. There is plenty of passing and offloading in the club tournaments in Europe too (even from the Irish sides). Something goes missing when they arrive at Carton House.

      • abitofshoepie

         /  March 12, 2013

        That was what I was getting at…I think at Super 15 and HEC level players are by and large trusted to play a more dynamic game. In the 6 nations teams almost seem to be instructed rather than coached, with narrow game plans to get through this weeks match and pre-ordained substitutions which don’t seem to change if the player to be subbed is having a good game.

      • Would agree with that. Part of the reason why the 6 Nations is increasingly such a turgid affair. There was a guy beside me on Saturday trying to claim it was the best tournament in the world. Had to bite my tongue extremely hard.

    • The glass-half-empty side of the Super 15 is the three thousand or so one-up tackles missed in every match. Most of the Super 15 sides would be beaten out of sight by most of the sides in the last 8 of the HEC, or the last 8 of the Amlin for that matter. So you have to ask why they produce better international teams – is it just a case of you can teach Conrad Smith to defend a lot easier than you can teach Keith Earls to pass?

      • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

         /  March 12, 2013

        Wrong. They play so much faster, an their teams are full of Wallabies, Kiwis and Bokke. The same lads that consistently beat Ireland and always have at least two in the IRB top three. It’s time we copped on and acknowledge that they are better.

      • Kind of my point. To use a soccer analogy, you can teach a footballer to kick people, but you can’t teach a clogger to play. So while the European club & provincial teams/HEC are better than their Super XV equivalents (the players who have played in both repeatedly tell us this themselves), one Richie McCaw outweighs ten Nick Easters when it comes to international level.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 12, 2013

        I agree, one McCaw outweighs ten Nick Easters, but one Steffon Armitage would give McCaw a hell of a game. NH international teams are picked to keep the score down(Lieveremonts french teams excepted) as opposed to giving the opposition hell for 80 mins. We have the players to try and take on the SH, but we dont use them, we are content to keep the score down for the most part.

        @Chogan “its time we copped on and acknowledge they are better?” AUS and the boks were a mess in Nov. We only played the Boks, but with an inventive game-plan we could have beaten them.

      • I’m with you Leinsterlion, but maybe you could pick a better example of a progressive Northern Hemisphere coach? Lievremont appeared to pick his teams with a blindfold, a noticeboard of player pics, and a set of numbered darts.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 12, 2013

        I honestly cant think of a NH coach Woodward aside who went down south with the intention to win. I think he beat NZ in NZ with a team shorn of Top 14 finalists and possibly semi finalists, selectoral issues aside Marc put out some great teams when the darts fell right.

      • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

         /  March 12, 2013

        Australia had a similar injury situation as we do now and they beat England having traveled to the other side of the world after a long hard season. Sounds familiar but they won most of their games.
        Similar from SA and NZ.

        If we put our top 8 sides v their top 8 in an “Uber rugby” league style system I’d be confident of them dominating the top half. That’s not to say we are unable to win it but their overall standard would be higher.
        If we then applied a quota system across Europe similar to the Irish provinces and not that French nonsense, we’d have even less teams capable of competing. The players that say that Europe is better are usually in Europe, the crowds and atmosphere are better up here so their experience is arguably better but the actual rugby… I don’t see it.

        The generic dismissal From NH is missed tackles and forward passes. They play so fast that almost everything is more. More passes. offloads, more rucks, more points etc… The key point is that their errors are on a par to ours per match and yet they play a lot more in the 80 minutes. That there is the vital stat.

      • I don’t think we’re going to agree on this.

        The skill level of the players – in terms of handling and running – is unquestionably better in the Southern Hemisphere – but when you have Super XV franchises thinking they can go without defence and kicking coaches… most of their teams wouldn’t stand a chance against Leinster, Ulster, Clermont, Toulon, Quins, Sarries…You look at players like Gareth Delve prospering in the Super XV and the point stops being arguable.

        You could argue their international teams – the Aussies and NZ that is; Argentina and SA are just a beefed up version of Northern rugby – are often better because when the general skillset is better, you just have to pick the smart guys with character (essentially my argument – Super XV is designed to produce guys who can all throw 30 yards passes, and it doesn’t matter that this is at the expense of the fact that most of them couldn’t organise their way to the bar, you only care about optimising the elite; while the median professional player in the Northern Hemisphere is better than his Southern equivalent but the elite few percent that push for international recognition aren’t).

        Or you could argue it’s cultural, compare Leinster, Toulouse and Quins to the dross that Ireland, England (well organised dross, but dross nonetheless), and France server up.

        There’s also the possibility that NZ are so far ahead of everyone that they skew hemispheral comparisons to the point where this discussion is pointless.

        But the idea that Southern Hemisphere players are somehow better I just don’t buy.

      • solidalarry

         /  March 13, 2013

        “Most of the Super 15 sides would be beaten out of sight by most of the sides in the last 8 of the HEC”

        I couldn’t disagree more with this if you’d added “up is down and white is black” on the end.

        Last year’s HEC quarter finalists included the woeful Cardiff Blues, the mostly-woeful Edinburgh, the woefully dull Saracens, a declining Munster, a turgid Toulouse and an on-the-up but hardly world beating Ulster side (who made the f-ing final!). Plus Clermont and Leinster.

        You think those teams would beat most Super 15 sides “out of sight”?

        I say only two would have much of a chance of finishing in the top half. Sharks, Bulls, Stormers, Reds, Chiefs, Crusaders all palpably better than the other six, while the Blues should be. Brumbies are a handy outfit, Highlanders and Hurricanes have some game…

      • solidalarry

         /  March 13, 2013

        @Chogan – “The generic dismissal From NH is missed tackles and forward passes. They play so fast that almost everything is more. More passes. offloads, more rucks, more points etc… The key point is that their errors are on a par to ours per match and yet they play a lot more in the 80 minutes. That there is the vital stat.”


        To over-simplify: their defences and ours are pretty similar, but they attack far better.

  5. Nathan Hines is king of distribution in terms of forwards. Watching him push backs out of the way to play first receiver for Clermont, then whipping passes wide, is a joy. As Curates Egg says, Irish forwards are clearly capable of passing and offloading. You’d have to wonder why they don’t do it at international level. Surely no one is telling them not to? Surely?

  6. brownbull

     /  March 12, 2013

    Subtext of the post: Axel F

    There seems to be wide spread support for Schmidt to replace Kidney across the pundits and provincial lines (following O’Shea excusing himself), however the pundits also take any opportunity to scold Penney and promote the work of Foley.

    There is a double standard here, how do rugby people want the game to be played in Ireland?

    Foley’s vision of the game in anathema to that of Schmidt, and i.m.h.o his involvement in the national setup is regressive in terms of the way the sport is moving at home and abroad.
    Why he has been given such latitude with the national squad before proving himself as a coach at provincial level is beyond me.

    • To be fair. The truck it up tactic predates Axel’s time with the mothership, so not fair to blame him for that. He has also been working on defense this campaign and that has been very strong: credit where credit’s due.

      For me his appointment was a clear sign that Kidney was holing himself up deep in the bunker and surrounding himself with his most trusted comrades. However, that should not detract from the decent job he seems to have done. The up-the-jumper tactic comes straight from Il Dece surely?

    • Good point, but let’s remember Leinster bludgeoned their way to their first HEC before swashbuckling to the next two. The pundits’ main point – and yes they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth, and sometimes out of favoured players’ mouths too – is that Penney/Munster are trying to run before they can walk, and I think that’s fair enough.

    • pete (buachaill on eirne)

       /  March 13, 2013

      I agree in that I think he is quite ‘old school’. In terms of defence he is doing a good job but to be an attack coach you need to be considerably more open minded and forward thinking.

      • It seems to me Foley is doing a good job, possibly the most consistent on the ticket in this Championship. The defence has been relatively solid, the real issue is are inability to convert attacking opportunities into points. Also the maul has been probably our most effective attacking play and I’d put some of the credit for that at his door too. He’s earned his place on the national ticket I’d say

        Regarding Penney, although I admire what he’s attempting to achieve in a difficult transitional period I think salmsonconnacht’s phrase of “trying to run before they can walk” is pretty bang on. If pundits weren’t criticizing a style of play that has Stakhanov spending undreamed of amounts of time out on the wing and the success of which depended on the pitch being a good 5 meters wider they wouldn’t be doing their jobs.

        Something I picked up on last night of OTB was Quinny & El Thorhino’s repeated use of the word “negativity”, with the idea that is being unfairly heaped in the Irish team. As an avid Munster & Ireland supporter I think I’m entitled to point out things that aren’t working or holding the sides back. I’m not interested in bashing players, making personal attacks on management, or pushing agendas without evidence or for that matter, scream “the school board is disbanding!” and jump out the window i.e. overreact. I think I and the rest of us are entitled to critique rather that just criticize and I don’t consider that overly negative. I consider that a key part of being a big fan of the game. Analysis isn’t the preserve of the anointed few.

        This was a long-winded way of saying I don’t agree with you, it seems to be unfair and inaccurate to single Foley in this way. Also, isn’t the point of the national side to be able to combine strengths from the various provinces into a cohesive style of play, with variable game plans depending on opposition? I believe Foley could bring nothing to Schmidt’s table & vice versa.

      • That should clearly be “I don’t believe”

  7. RICH

     /  March 12, 2013

    I think the conditions have a lot to do with this – dressing room will be full of protect the pill and build the phases. Players are more than capable- remember Heaslip try at M’field couple of seasons back, rory best quick hands to put him into the gap and 7 points. So on a good day i reckon we d see a few more offloads. But i have noticed how easy we are to defend against, i know none of our pack will offload now which is 100% part of the gameplan.

    Pointless to compare to super 15 play, they have no structure past 1 phase and the weather dictates the play, that coupled with much more advanced skills means they will chuck blind passes and more than likely the player outside will gather. Also note by Super 15 you mean the NZ franchises – as Aus teams def don t offload and SA not much better

    • Leinsterlion

       /  March 12, 2013

      RE the differing skillsets in different nations franchises: I would have thought the same after the first four rounds, but the Bulls dismantling of the Blues(a B team though it was) and the Brumbies skillfull play added to the Cheetahs excellent win over the Chiefs put paid to the theory its only the NZ teams who like to sling it.

  8. zdm

     /  March 12, 2013

    It’s not that we don’t move the point of attack, it’s that our attack is so one dimensional that even if we dominate territory, our phase play is so obvious that the defence can organise instantly.

    EOS used to frustrate me because his team would dominate the gain line so that there were multiple gaps in the defensive line and then the phase play would be so complicated that the gaps would be filled before the ball carrier got there. Deccie is the opposite – no other tier 1 team employs even half the number of “pick and goes” or inside ball as we do and then we wonder why our backs get crowded out as they desperately search for a gap in an organised man on man defence.

  9. Peat

     /  March 13, 2013

    Being of unsound mind and easily bored, I decided to go count up last season for some context and present the following chart here…

    FR IT WA IR EN SC Total
    FR – 26 17 27 12 24 106
    IT 30 – 8 19 11 22 90
    WA 20 34 – 19 9 22 104
    IR 19 24 17 – 9 12 81
    EN 14 17 22 8 – 4 65
    SC 40 23 44 21 34 – 162

    The first thing I’d take from that chart is that apart from Italy and England, everyone’s got more conservative this year. The second thing I’d take is that lovely as it might be see, passing in the forwards and success don’t necessarily share a correlation. The Scottish globetrotters did not go well. Although a correlation between a lack of passing in the pack and a lack of tries does seem to be there. The third thing is that this is not a new Irish problem. Even allowing for the horrific conditions against England they were not adventure friendly. What the stats don’t show because I’m rather lazy is that Ferris accounted for at least a fifth of those passes alone; clearly he deserves the Ulster Samoan nickname for more than his mutant genetics. But then, O’Brien and Heaslip both chipped in nicely last year – the lot of them probably made over half the passes. This year, O’Brien and Heaslip probably knocked it on more than they’ve passed it. As things stand, Ireland will make less passes than last year’s England – a team of remarkably dour intent and limited skill who can make the same weather excuses as Ireland to boot. England played Mouritz Botha here. That is absolutely crazy and quite categorically a coaching problem.

    Unless I am mistaken though, Foley is the only innocent in this particular one as defence coach. Smal is forwards coach, Kiss is attack coach, unless I am mistaken – and I believe Kiss wasn’t attack coach this time last year? Might be wrong on that.

    • Wasn’t Kiss attack and defence coach this time last year? Maybe he just got the play sheets arseways?

    • Thanks for posting those Peat, very instructive. Scotland topping the log last year is intriguing – I recall they were trying to mine the same seam that had Edinburgh in the knockouts of the Heineken Cup.

      I find it hard to pin it on any one of our coaches, because it’s so hard to identify who exactly is in charge of what. I put it down to a sort of general malaise and lack of clear-sighted game planning.

    • paddy

       /  March 13, 2013

      It’s interesting about the Scots, but IIRC they were guilty of shovelling the ball acrosss the line alot last yea\r and showed some of the same against the boks last year. They really stuggled to make it tell when they were in their opponents 22. They were there for a good 10 minutes at one point and kept turning it over.

      Also For all Italys passing they haven’t set the world alight with passing or scores(less tries than us and -43 PD). I’d put a lot of poor return in the opponents 22 down to the halves and sloppy handling. ROG was passed it and was never gonna get us going forward when he came on. Jackson still looks like he is settling in and to some extent was never given the chances that were really his to miss in Murrayfield. Now despite Murrays good game on Saturday he was still guilty of trying to hatch the ball on occasion and I think that is a problem too.

      All in all though great stuff lads & Peat

  10. Peat

     /  March 13, 2013

    Hah! “Well, the sheet says stand flat and no offloads… so that’s what you’re doing in attack.”
    “Sure that isn’t the defence shee-”
    “Shut up! It’s what on the sheet. Oh, and slow the ball down. Yeah, that’s important.”

    You may well be right there Egg on both counts…

  11. Some good info there, WOC. As a aside, I notice you are put out by the new IT website and was wondering do you ever actually BUY a paper?It is customary to come down hard on the ‘established’ media here but ye seem to be focused solely on the IT and Indo because they put their content up for free. What about the other papers that are not online? Do you for example have any idea who are the rugby scribes in the Mirror, Sun, Mail or Star and why is the Examiner never talked about – they are online?
    The analysis ye do is pretty impressive but media-wise, extremely narrow and limited to free online access, is it tightness?

    • paddy

       /  March 13, 2013

      The first 3 don’t count as Irish papers or Rugby papers for that matter(Farrelly – formerly of Indo fame and actually a step up on Conor George- is at the mail) and the star is mostly soccer orientated. But for the most part it’s down to quality. They mostly report rather than analysis or discuss the subject.

      • zdm

         /  March 13, 2013

        Actually, I think it’s more down to comedy than quality – Conor George seemed to actually take it personally when O’Gara was dropped.

    • We’ve been accused of a lot of things since we started the blog, but being too tight to buy a newspaper has set the bar at a new low. Then again, we are 50% Ulster…

      • Also, to the best of my knowledge, work has to be done to provide for Mini Egg & Little Ovale. I think the depth of research and frequency of posting on this blog is truly exceptional. However, Luke is you’d like to pay the lads to read every daily printed word you go right ahead. I’d salute you for it.

      • Xyz

         /  March 14, 2013

        Some blogs have introduced a voluntary tip jar – perhaps we should consider contributions to the WoC Wine Fund?

        And maybe then the lads could afford to step it up a bit… Val Pol? Mon dieu, what would your muse think of an Italian wine to accompany a French game?

  12. Dave

     /  March 14, 2013

    Interesting piece of analysis lads. On first viewing I thought our backrow played well. All three played well against France where in the other games only one or two performed to an acceptable level. So even though they seemed to play well, the passing stats cast them in a poor light. In general our offloading and passing skills are poor even at provincial level. Before any Leinster fans point out that they play an attractive brand of attacking slick passing rugby – they do – but when the first string of players are away they are a much lesser team.
    I watched some super Super rugby at the weekend. The thing that struck me however was not the level and variation of passing skills on display but the absolute manic ferocity at the breakdown and in contact, particularly from the Kiwi teams. When a player took contact the leg drive and footwork that they used almost always put them over the gainline. Then the locks and backrow did stellar work in clearing out the ruck, driving well beyond the ball. On one occasion however, Justin Marshall pointed out a very clever and legal ploy by the Canes. They targeted the arms of the Crusaders players pulling them to deck leaving the defending player unable to support their own weight.
    I acknowledge the need for a more and better passing but I would much prefer to see quick, no really quick ruck ball for O’Brien in particular and the backs to run onto. As it stands we could have the bloody Harlem Globetrotters passing repertoire but with defenses so organised it probably wouldn’t be any use.

    • I think your last point is a really good one. The organizational level of defences has hugely improved, even just in recent years. This is not to say we should excuse an inability to break down a team like the English a few weeks ago or to give up the ghost in that direction but it’s worth acknowledging

      • Dave

         /  March 14, 2013

        Yep, that’s my take on it too. I just think that even though having a great passing game is very beneficial, as Joe Schmidt has developed at Leinster, it may not be enough to beat the best teams now. The game, specifically defense, is evolving at a more rapid pace than it has in the past. I suppose it is becoming more professional. That said the core principals of attack remain the same. If you’re not going forward it is very difficult to win. Being able to pass the ball really well is of course a distinct advantage.

      • I think our passing and in particular offloading is really letting us down, as amply illustrated above. It’s something that has also disimproved at provincial level, notably at Munster, and from loftier heights than the rest, Leinster. It’s hard to defend against and urgently needs to be addressed

  13. pete (buachaill on eirne)

     /  March 14, 2013

    One tactic that Leinster started using and Ulster showed glimpses of it at the start of the season was multi-option plays off one of runners.

    So scrumhalf passes to a forward a few metres off the ruck and they have then got options:

    1: take it in
    2: pass it to another forward another metre or two outside them coming from out to in
    3: pass it behind the second forward (screen pass) to the 10 who then releases the backline and generally has a blind side winger on their inside in case a blitz defence comes up quickly
    4: pass it to the scrumhalf who has run a ‘wrap’ back around the forwards

    Ireland can and have used this style of play, I am thinking the try we scored against America in the RWC11. This is something I’d love to see being used more often perhaps not by all forwards, I’d hate to see Ross, O’Connell, McCarthy or Healy have to throw a pass like this as I don’t think they have the decision making ability in terms of spacial awareness and none of the above are very good passers.

    However Heaslip, Best, Ryan, POM, all have the ability to do this.

    It has a low impact on resources as you only need two forwards to achieve this and in all likelihood one of these two forwards will be hitting the ensuing ruck.

    What you do need: is decision makers and the right attitude to move the ball. With this style of semi-set play that can be used off every second phase you can make informed decisions on whether to keep it tight, exploit space further wise but most importantly it keeps the defence guessing.

    The point of attack is varied so much. You can also add in further variations like having a back3 player coming in between the first forward and the ruck (a la semi final in Clermont)

    Basically it fixes defenders and leaves a gap somewhere it is up to the players to make the right call and then execute simple passes.

    Leinster can do this, Ulster have shown they can too. Ireland have shown they can.

    Why do Ireland not continue to do it? It is an excellent strategy and suits our build of player?

    • solidalarry

       /  March 14, 2013

      I think this is spot on.

      Of course, this stuff doesn’t even need to be prescriptive. You can set up basic structures and then play with heads up. It’s easy to train this sort of thing as well – four-on-four touch rugby in a small grid will get the ideas working.

      I had noticed that our forwards are a bit fond of ball-in-the-armpit stuff, but this article was still shocking. I’d have thought our strengths included short passing and picking smart lines – soft shoulders, fellas on their heels, etc – and we’ve been doing none of it.

      There’s plenty of attacking potential in the squad but these stats surely indicate tactics not merely individual one-off choices and I find it both baffling and a little galling.

      Here’s hoping that whoever is in charge come the summer can begin to address this. It’s the sort of thing that can really reduce your effectiveness with the ball.

      • pete (buachaill on eirne)

         /  March 14, 2013

        Yeah that is the idea, that it is the kind of thing you can set in moments. If Heaslip has just got off the floor he can fill in at that first forward role call the move, gets a forward outside him and at least he then has 3 options that is before you include the scrumhalf wrap or the blindside winger entering the line.

        Just one call and then you have a creative method of moving the ball and getting the defense on the backfoot and a guessing

  14. Manga's League

     /  March 15, 2013

    Difference between NH and SH (which seems to have become a debate here for some reason) is not necessarily skill levels to offload but more the support play if you ask me. If Sonny Bill, for example, payed in the 6 nations he would look ridiculous throwing offloads to deck at every opportunity. In S15 he never even needed to look as he knew he had 14 players behind him capable of reading his movements and running onto the ball no matter where he chucked it!

    • I guess it’s a mindste thing. If everyone has it ingrained in them to keep the ball alive, the ball carrier will try to do it and the othr players will try to support them.

      Heaslip used to frequently look for offloads but often find there was nobody there to take it. These days nobody in the Ireland team even bothers to think about it!

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