Figuring out a reasonable game plan against the French has never been the forte of Irish coaches or captains. It won’t be on Saturday either.
However, at Mole Towers, we go to endless trouble to help out Deccie in any way we can. So here’s the accumulated wisdom of years on the ditch with an eye to Stade de France at 9pm on February 10th 2012.
It’s brutally cold with a bit of an easterly breeze (i.e. blowing diagonally across the pitch) causing a little drift on any very high kick.
So broad strokes first:
- Narrow the pitch
- Play 4/5 man line-outs with one backrow outside our open winger. Spread their forwards from this phase initially. Don’t let their pack stay together and gather momentum.
- Off short line-outs, have Sexton find Kearney, Trimble or Bowe with pass back inside. Keep possession in hand from the tackle / ruck and go back down the short-side but with lots of off-loads before contact. Use this 15 channel to pass before contact or pick and go.
- Box-kick occasionally off mauled line-out. Tackle the catcher towards touchline or compete for possession
- Attack their scrum-half
- Ferris, Heaslip or whoever is not a prime lifter at the back of the line-out on their ball must attack Parra by trying to cut off his outside pass or break. If Murray can also attack him from the front of the line-out, so much the better.
- Counter-ruck every static situation. Try to knock French forwards back on top of Parra at ruck / tackle time
- Target him for restart reception. Parra is critical to each French team he plays for because he always wants to dictate the tempo. It is critical that he feels under pressure after 10 mins and it continues for the remainder. A few verbal reminders wouldn’t go astray either because his English is good
- Mix up the positions that players receive the ball off first-phase attack
- Use Bowe or Trimble taking the ball in the 12 or 13 slot. Use Earls on the left wing if attacking on the left side of the pitch. Changing the challenge presented to a French defence may not always work in creating an opening but it creates doubt in their minds and convinces them that the Irish “have a plan”.
- Use Robert Kearney as first receiver off a back throw line-out a la Jamie Roberts. Again maybe not a clean line break every time but a very different challenge to Darce or Earls and keeping the French thinking.
- Use back-row forward in the outside channel off 3rd or 4th phase possession and look purely to punish their back-three in defending the challenge
- Take your points at every opportunity
- Drop goals, penalties it doesn’t matter. Keeping our points tally moving is something the French think we do not do or think about.
- Target Vincent Clerc
- Nothing personal you understand, but this guy has had enough big days against us to have a laugh about one bad one. We should target him with big runners when he is in a blind-side position; cross kicks – long or short – should be kicked to his wing regularly throughout the game. Trimble & Bowe have so much class in the air we must get some result from this.
These specific tactic don’t amount to a gameplan, but that should remain the same as against Wales – even if it was not executed well by the players.
To think that we have enough to play our own game against teams and win on our own terms is nor just naivety, it’s arrogance. We need to target specific elements of the French selection and their game plan, because they’ll sure as sh*t be targeting us. You can change your approach by either introducing new personnel or by changing your tactics; we’ve made just one personnel change.
Good challenge mole and fair play to you – anyone can criticise coaches, but having a go yourself is constructive and it can make Ye realise how tough it is. As charlie chaplin once said -anyone can make em cry, but only a genius can make em laugh.
My two cents….firstly attitude. I remember after the “waltzing o’driscoll” lions test way back and during the week after it an Aussie school kid was shown on sky tv where he got up on stage to give words of encouragement to his heroes. He captured the public mood when he said something like “score some tries you bunch of dingbats.” Result 2-1 wallabies. Equally I remember a coach of an underage side and the night before a big game himself and co-manager were pouring over the gameplan in detail….. serious detail. In comes the guy’s thoroughly fed up wife and says “why don’t you just tell them to go out and I dunno, fuckin win?!” He did and they did, so much for gameplan! If only it were that easy!
Back to the game in hand, I don’t like the idea about using back3 from deep. Para is the best defensive sweeping scrum half there is. This gives the French some freedom to push up, knowing they have a get out. We would seriously risk losing bad yardage doing that in this game. It’s a week too late. I would consider using bowe more perhaps in that way, purely because he seems to have a hand in about 90% of our tries/linebreaks for some time now. But he cannot be isolated – a risky one.
There should have been more dinks against Wales (a la ogara vs scarlets), but parra now makes that impossible, where Phillips could’ve been a weakness. Therefore I totally agree we should look to cross kick to (especially) bowe or trimble and yes Target clerc. Even if it doesn’t come off it will slow their centres and could make room for earls. Obviously kicking at clerc will require a safety net downfield for fear of egg on face mind you.
Use healy with an odd midfield carry. Preferably off an offload from sob. The French will be expecting a “if there’s no hole I’ll make one” attitude and they’ll be looking to make a statement against him. Healy could slip under the radar.
Agree with shortened lineouts, but more importantly, call to paulie. Paulie is in danger of neither being a 4 or a 5, but he remains a great lineout forward. He needs to go toe to toe cerebrally and physically with harinordiquay. Attack these boys at their strongest point and sometimes they can be like a deck of cards.
Abandon the choke tackle. It is an opportunistic move, not a credible ongoing defensive gameplan. It concedes yardage and momentum if it don’t come off….and what is the percentage of success, one in 3? 4? 5? Any the last day? Go back to trusting the patterns and the tackles. And by Christ tackle, hit and hang on for dear life.
Finally use the bench. Lay down the gauntlet that we are taking you on and we aren’t going away. Get cronin in early, get Ryan to 5, paulie to 4, bring in o’mahony to 7 and put seanie to his best position – 8 (like the waffle on the ceiling that is sacrilicious to Jamie I know, but its only fair to sob). Get reddan on early and consider mcfadden to 10 as a sub. Rog could still come in later*.
General theme, go toe to toe. If we try to contain with chokes and are passive at ruck and in defense, we’ll get what we always got off these lads. That’s all I can give you off the top of my head at this time of the morning. Hope it made you guys laugh more than cry! Good luck to kidney and his team. Go out and fuckin win!
*not sure on the latest injury news on j10s quad.
Excellent analysis…my fave is the taking of drop-goals at every opportunity…why oh why don’t Irish teams do this more often???
Agreed HoR, I know as a nation we’re heavy on building tries through phases but we have very capable drop goalers. Using that option could lead to a slightly disrupted line integrity over the course of the game from the opposition if they think we could go for one, as well as obviously hopefully garnering a few points! The discipline in French line integrity is a key today. If its good we will have to be creative with kicks and our attack, cause we won’t bosh them in contact.
Ireland will need to take a high percentage of their chances today and get a high points to field position ratio to have a chance in truth. I’ll back off now, getting a bit carried away here, bloody 8pm kick offs!
Spot on again Mole. Think we both agree, that other than a change at seven, (swapping O’Brien for out and out groundhog like Jennings) there wasn’t much DK could do, personnel wise, to change things overnight. The drawbacks of this change, specifically, have been detailed previously, especially wrt reduced ball carrying. Did anyone really expect him to change more than that? Swapping Earls for McFadden was always likely, swapping one Donncha for another less so. As I have mentioned previously, who else is performing at the level required to start against the French in France? Not a place to make changes. For anyone looking for changes, the Italy & less so, Scotland games (might) provide that opportunity.
Devon Toner anyone? Ian Madigan? Get real people. Maybe Boss on the bench maybe, purely to replicate the Joe Schmidt away game horses for courses mentality. And to match the physicality required en France…for those with issues Paddy Wallace flying in, he is on form, has done a job for us in the past, and most importantly, knows the systems , calls etc etc. Jetissoning in some chungfla at this stage would be wrong
I agree with tactical changes though, many are valid. The way to get at France is by getting physical. Italy matched it last year. Argentina always bring it against France.
Agree with Paddy aswell, JUST FUCKING DO IT. Forget the choke tackle, it has worked against some teams, but whatever happened to sitting a guy on his orse?? The choke did work last week, when mismatches made it possible- Priestland was held up by a combo and led directly to a turnover. I’d like to see our lads matching the French forwards with head a on Mano-a-Mano challenge. We need to start winning the collisions, then hoping lady luck arrives to pass it to our backs. Stick a few one outs right down new boy Fofanas channel and see how he does!
More aggressive tackling would serve the cause well, bring back the choke!