Sport The Left Wing

Tuesday 23 July 2019

'It's two different philosophies' - Leinster stars on the difference between national and provincial set-ups

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt (left) and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen (right).
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt (left) and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen (right). Newsdesk Newsdesk

There are very few teams in world rugby operating at a higher level than Ireland and Leinster at the moment and two players with experience in both camps say that the national and provincial set-ups have some interesting differences.

Hooker James Tracy and centre Rory O'Loughlin have both been capped by Joe Schmidt during his time as Ireland head coach and the duo have also played a part in Leinster's recent surge to the top of European rugby.

While both sides were similarly successful in terms of winning trophies last season, Tracy says that Ireland and Leinster have 'different philosophies' that both work.

Speaking to The Left Wing,'s rugby podcast, Tracy says that the focus in Irish camp is more on learning structured plays, while Leinster rely more on being able to punish teams when the game becomes unstructured.

"It's different, it's the only way to describe it," Tracy said of training with Leinster vs training with Ireland.

"It's two different philosophies. That's how Joe gets success. That's the game plan and Joe works out that if you do this, this hole will open up here. Stuart and Leo's philosophy is a bit different. We have our plays obviously but it is more about unstructured attack. It is two different ways of looking. We definitely put effort in our starter plays but there is more time put towards unstructured play with Stuart's philosophy. There is no right way to do it."

From a backline perspective, O'Loughlin says that in Irish camp, the team usually has an entire set of new plays for each game.

"We play a lot of teams [with Leinster] throughout a season and you would remember their traits," O'Loughlin said.

"We generally use the same plays each weeks with a variation on each move. What I've found in national camp is that their is a new set of plays for every team each week."

Tracy added that the detail-orientated nature of being involved with Ireland keeps every player on their toes, even the most experienced ones.

"There are lads in there who have 100 caps but they are not comfortable, they are just as uncomfortable as the new guy!," Tracy said.

"They know if they get the move wrong or don't step in at the right time, they'll get it. That level of detail is what makes Ireland so successful."

Subscribe to The Left Wing,'s Rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, 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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