Friday 23 August 2019

Scrum wasn't good enough but it's not an ongoing trend - Fogarty

Leinster coach John Fogarty
Leinster coach John Fogarty
David Kelly

David Kelly

Great teams can overcome their limited faults; average teams cannot.

When Leinster were truly great, as in the 2011 European final, they could be destroyed in one half of rugby but suddenly resuscitate a rapidly retreating scrum in the half-time interval required to boil a kettle, turning a 22-6 deficit into a 33-22 victory in the process.

Whatever remedial action attempted last weekend affected minimal change as Leinster's ebbing eight imploded to startling effect against Bath.

As a result, Leinster plunged into pressure in every other facet of play. There must be a reaction this week as the enervating damage wrought by an imploding set-piece is corrosive, as a self-confessed member of a faltering back-line conceded.

"When things are under pressure in different areas in the pack and things aren't going to plan there, the couple of opportunities that you do create become more important for the team and that's something we could do better," said Luke Fitzgerald.

"We feel that we could probably kick a little bit better as well. Our accuracy at ruck time, we let ourselves down a little bit there.

"The good thing about those things is that are all fixable and they are fixable quickly. We are pretty confident that we can turn it around pretty quickly."

All of which, however, is predicated upon the scrum working in concert, instead of being concertinaed.

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A lot of coaches attempt to daze their supporters into somnolence by drowning analysis with diversionary statistics and impenetrable technical gobbledegook; John Fogarty is armed with plenty but his refreshingly damning message is clear enough for even the simplest ears to receive.

"It wasn't good enough," confirmed the forwards coach, whose lengthy exposition on the scrum's downfall was technically convincing enough to assure the Leinster faithful that he knows what he's doing, even if his players didn't.

"I'm not going to take anything away from Bath. Their scrum worked very well. They did a really good job on us. There's no way of hiding from that.

"They managed us early in the scrum, from bind-down to set. They chased a bit after set. We were just on our feet. Our alignment went off.

"That left us vulnerable to their snap, that weight coming through. We could put weight through ourselves, but not the right amount of weight.

"That is something we scouted before the game. It is disappointing and it's not good enough that we, as a group, didn't address that over the 80 minutes.

"That is something we've talked about. We're going to put some things I place to deal with that. We'll add little bits.

"But we'll also look at exactly what we're doing with that alignment and being able to take that load at the early part of the scrum. We'll make sure we're able to handle that in the future. I don't think it's an ongoing trend."

Any team can have a bad day, yet there is a sense that this Leinster side is being bullied; the last attacking lineout where Bath dictated the terms of - illegal - engagement, before blowing away the visitors in the ensuing maul, reflected a team having a crisis of character.

Or, as Lawrence Dallaglio and Ronan O'Gara have alluded to, a lack of backbone.

"I'm sure that supporters, when they see the game, they want to see that chest-out, fighting hard. With that mistake, the reaction is hugely important and the reaction wasn't good enough. We want to minimise those mistakes," said Fogarty.

"More than anything, like a maul, like a scrum, we want to make sure our reaction to this is the right one, a positive one. That's the way we're going about our business.

"We're not looking to Friday. We're looking to today, this training session so that we can create an opportunity on Friday for this team, for our province, for our supporters.

"I'm not going to sleep until that happens. None of the players will either."

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