Liam Toland: Scotland knocked Ireland off balance by attacking pillars of strength

Concern after Murrayfield loss is that things may get harder before they get easier

Gerry Thornley and Liam Toland react to Ireland's defeat to Scotland in their Six Nations opener.

William Shakespeare’s words “What’s past is prologue” are engraved in Washington DC as a gentle reminder that history is but the introduction. Ireland have built huge success these past seasons on three pillars; the one-out runner, the lineout maul and the box-kick. History has been very kind to these three ingredients but then Vern Cotter was paying attention to them also and I assume, as all leaders do in preparation for battle, he asked the crucial question: “what is their centre of gravity?” And, as Clausewitz wrote, a decisive act on same will cause the opponent to yield.

That Irish source of strength are those pillars, manifest in our strong boys: Seán O’Brien, CJ Stander and Robbie Henshaw. In attacking our centre of gravity, Scotland smashed these three guys like never before; oft times in double and triple teams. This stopped Ireland’s flow, messed up the recycle and crucially afforded Scotland defensive reset time for another onslaught of tackles.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.