Sunday 19 May 2019

James Ryan reveals the data points he focuses in post-game analysis and the man behind his exemplary tackling technique

James Ryan applauds the fans after the match. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
James Ryan applauds the fans after the match. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne Newsdesk Newsdesk

It was one of the iconic moments of last weekend's famous win over the All Blacks, James Ryan and Devin Toner double-teaming to drive Brodie Retallick back in the tackle to the roar of the Aviva Stadium crowd.

Ryan's rise over the past 18 months has been meteoric and the figures he is churning out game after game typify his influence.

His 20 tackles and 17 carries last week have become the norm.

Speaking on this week's episode of The Left Wing,'s rugby podcast, the 22-year-old revealed the key stats he looks out for when he is analysing his game.

"The more involvement that you have in the game, the more influence you can have," he said.

"It wouldn't be metres ran or collision load or that kind of data. I'd have to watch it first to get an idea of the context. I suppose the number of tackles, the number of positive ruck involvements, number of positive carries. They'd be what I'm looking at really."

It's not just the number of tackles but the quality of them and Ryan puts a lot of the improvements in that area of his game down to the work he's doing with Leinster skills coach Hugh Hogan.

"We do a lot of work at Leinster in terms of being able to spot gaps and holes early and then being able to run lines early and in terms of contact work, being able to keep your feet alive and fight for that extra one, two, three inches," he added.

"I've been doing a bit of work with Hugh Hogan on that (tackling), sometimes I had a tendency over the last 5-6 months to chop a lot, I was kind of going in like a headless chicken and not keeping my feet alive. I was exposing my head a bit and I ended up with a few concussions.

"If I keep my feet alive, I can make a much more dominant tackle because I can get that leg drive.

"There has been a small shift in that mindset. You need to chop sometimes but instead of your first is make dominant tackles by keeping your feet alive."

Subscribe to The Left Wing,'s Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

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