Joe Schmidt’s ultra-conservative game plan may be working but it’s not good to watch

The laws are being manipulated so running rugby is penalised and a kicking game is rewarded

Joe Schmidt has cast off the attacking philosophy of his coaching “apprenticeship” and is adopting a pragmatic “forensic accounting” game plan. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty

Joe Schmidt has cast off the attacking philosophy of his coaching “apprenticeship” and is adopting a pragmatic “forensic accounting” game plan. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty

 

After the third round of the Six Nations match statistics can reveal the playing trends that power that championship.

I would remind you there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

If you overemphasise statistics you can come down with the coaching disease known as, “paralysis by analysis”.

What statistics do reveal are trends in the game. Such as, the fact that undefeated Ireland have carried the ball a measly 888 metres and only the Italians have carried the ball less, with 800 metres.

While last-placed Scotland have carried the ball 1, 237 metres, only just short of the leaders England with 1,381 metres.

The stat suggests ball-in-hand running rugby is not being rewarded.

That trend continues with the “offloading and line break” statistics.

Italy have made 13 line breaks with 27 offloads; Scotland have made 16 line breaks with 26 offloads; Wales 12 line breaks with 19 offloads while France have a staggering 49 off loads and England 26 offloads.

Ireland are at the bottom of the table with only eight clean breaks and only12 offloads. It is no shock that in having scored only three tries Ireland have scored less tries than Scotland, Italy, Wales and England.

Damning statement

Yet, it is the scoreboard that matters and Ireland have scored 63 points, second only to England on 77.

The vast majority of Ireland’s points are from the boots of their excellent goal kickers.

A simple “P law” is in use by Ireland. Get Position, through kicking. Apply Pressure. Get Penalties. Accumulate Points. We used to call that “Munster Rugby”.

Many of those penalties are from scrums.

Even the official Six Nations website finds it difficult to fathom the scrums. The Six Nations statistic states that against France, Ireland won three scrums and lost two. I can promise you my interpretation of a scrum win and loss is very different from the Six Nations statisticians.

The true picture of the Irish and French scrums was that useful attacking ball came out of only two of the 11 scrums. Both were for France, and inside the last two minutes. I can only conclude that penalties from scrums now count as wins or losses.

By the Six Nations statisticians’ definition, you can win the scrum without the ball going in or coming out. Lies, damn lies . . .

Joe Schmidt has cast off the attacking philosophy of his coaching “apprenticeship” and is adopting a pragmatic “forensic accounting” gameplan. That is not a criticism of Ireland or Joe.

The laws of rugby are like the tax laws. The big corporations with banks of layers and accountants bend and manipulate the tax law loopholes for their own gain. Tax legislation is always many steps behind the accountants.

The current laws of rugby are well behind smart-thinking coaches like Joe Schmidt and the rapid development of organised defensive systems. Smart coaches are manipulating the laws so running rugby is penalised and a kicking game is rewarded.

I admire the thinking process, but I don’t like watching the outcome.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.