Sport Rugby

Thursday 18 January 2018

3 things to do if you want to beat france

1 Find your depth: Flat and lateral is food and drink to France's big midfield. Run plays from depth, and load up on decoy runners. That increases Ireland's chances of clean breaks, or at least half-breaking tackles.

And that in turn opens the door to offloads, which are key. By a distance they are the best way of getting in behind the first line of France's defence. The problem is the downside to getting them wrong: the penalty for which usually involves 60 seconds behind your own posts waiting for the conversion.

2 Pick and Jam

Remember the World Cup game in Paris in 2007 when the Irish forwards battered France around the fringes and then spread the ball once when they got sight of the try line? And promptly turned it over? They should have stuck to the task in hand. This is hardly sexy stuff and carries a greater risk nowadays than four years ago in that referees are supposed to be alive to players sealing the ball off at the tackle, but when players go in pairs it is very hard to stop. And France don't seem to have a great appetite for it.

3 Vary the lineout

The lack of inches in the Ireland back row in Rome militated against using the tail of the line, but the return of Jamie Heaslip to the fold improves that slightly. Still, Ireland are operating against four lineout jumpers, and two of them -- Julien Bonnaire and Imanol Harinordoquy -- are world class. If O'Connell and company are not clever and quick, they'll be dead meat.

-- Brendan Fanning

Sunday Indo Sport

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