Former Ireland Head Coach Doesn’t Rate Andy Farrell’s Defence

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Former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan thinks Andy Farrell’s Ireland defence is overrated.

O’Sullivan appeared on Off the Ball following a weekend where Ireland made history by completing their first ever southern hemisphere triple crown with a win over the Wallabies.

The former head coach gave a detailed account of how Ireland have progressed, including their “really exceptional” ability to finish games off, their “world-class” lineout and their excellent scrum. O’Sullivan however, much to the studio’s surprise, didn’t have much good to say about Andy Farrell.

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“I think it’s overrated, to be honest.” O’Sullivan said when asked about Ireland’s defensive performance.

I think the big take from our defence during the autumn has been (that) our discipline has been extraordinary.

The idea we have conceded a grand total of eleven penalties in three matches, and the opposition have conceded forty-one, is phenomenal. But our defence per se is not particularly good…our tackle rate is just barely over 80% over the three matches, that’s really worrying. Plus the fact teams are scoring in excess of three tries a match.”

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He went on to outline how Ireland could suffer in the Six Nations next year if they don’t tighten up their defensive performances.

We’re measuring ourselves against Australia and New Zealand but they’re scoring in excess of three tries a match against us, with 40% possession and 40% territory.

What if we go into the Six Nations and teams get 50% possession and 50% territory and they don’t give up 15 penalties. So they’ve a lot more ball, a lot more territory. And how do we score two to three tries a game with less possession and less territory?

We’re still making poor decisions defensively at times. We’re not making poor decisions in terms of discipline, we’re incredibly disciplined. And that’s fantastic. If you know you’re not going to give up five or six penalties a game that’s a huge advantage defensively in particular.

But if you look at Kuridrani’s try at the weekend, it’s a schoolboy error. We had five defenders on the left hand side of the ruck against two Australian attackers and they had a walk-in…that’s pretty poor.

We gave up three tries in eleven minutes against New Zealand, gave up four last week, three this week. We’re leaking tries against teams with 40% possession.

I don’t think that’s great defence by any metric.

Does he have a point? How did you rate Ireland defensively in November?

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