Mark Tainton doesn’t get a huge amount of media coverage. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t get allowed out to talk too often, as he doesn’t seem to subscribe to Declan Kidney’s “give them nuthin” approach.
He talks very candidly with Fergburger about Ireland’s performance against Wales in the Independent. Of course Farrelly makes a pig’s ear of it, burying all the interesting quotes and top-and-tailing the piece with boilerplate sh*te about how being underdogs suits the Irish sporting psyche, putting our backs to the wall and going to the well … you’d think I’m making it up, but it’s all here.
“We played a lot of rugby in our own half in the first half and we spoke about how, while it is great to keep ball in hand, there are times when we need to relieve pressure. When our line-out was going as well as it was against Wales, perhaps we could have played a little bit more field position in those areas — whether that is finding grass and going for touch or putting up contestables (high kicks).
At the start of the game, they kicked off and we did the basics very well; Conor (Murray) put up a superb box kick, Tommy (Bowe) chased it well and we won the penalty.
There were times when we were deep in our half and we may have gone one or two phases too much, when we could have actually relieved the pressure a little bit earlier and kicked on our terms. It is something we have looked at and will work on.”
The Mole can certainly remember a garryowen that Sexton put up from inside his own 22 at the end of the first half. I thought it was a miskick or a brain-fart, but was it actually a Tainton tactic?
It’s always interesting to hear the coaches talk about a tactical approach to rugby, rather than just saying incredibly bland things about the game. Garryowening your way out of your own 22 seems a pretty bad tactic to me, but I’m sure that if I sat down with Mark Tainton he could give me three or four reasons why it’s a reasonable enough wrinkle to have in the gameplan.
Obviously you don’t want to be broadcasting exactly what you’re going to do against the opposition in the next match, but Kidney has long veered the other way in his dealings with the media and, through them, the Irish rugby public. Being polite and inscrutable is all very well when you have winning results behind you, but simply handing out the platitudes and winding your way around the tough answers gets up peoples’ noses when the performances aren’t there.
More out of the Mark Tainton school, please … even if you don’t agree with the game plan, it’s reassuring to know that there is one.
The original article is published in the Irish Independent.