Joe Schmidt says lineout is always a collective failure
Iain Henderson insists Ireland can bounce back from heavy defeat to England
Ireland win a lineout against England during their defeat at Twickenham Stadium. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters
When the lineout is good, Ireland are very, very good, but when the lineout is bad, Ireland are very bad indeed.
It wasn’t just that Ireland lost six of their own lineouts, denying them three platforms to attack and effectively contributing to 21 of England’s points. The consolation Bundee Aki try emanated from a rare attacking lineout that provided a launching pad for a phased attack. But even then, a sixth coughed up throw handed England their eighth try and a record win.
“It’s always a collective thing,” maintained Joe Schmidt, as much because so many component parts go into it, be it the call, the lifting, the timing and the throwing, as for any desire not to publicly apportion the blame at the door of his long-serving captain Rory Best.
“There was a couple of calls that we put ourselves under pressure on, I think we put a bit of pressure on Iain Henderson by being a bit slow with our process and he’s calling and they [England] see the picture early and they can get into it.
“I would have to say that I think our lineout has been a massive strength for us. We have jumbled a few things around during this week, obviously Iain and Jean have never played together, so for that you’re always going to be a little bit sticky, whereas, with Itoje and Kruis – they’re two very, very good lineout operators.
“Itoje is so quick up off the ground and at the ball, he does get into your space very quickly and makes a lot of contact in the lineout but it is very effective for them.”
Henderson called the lineouts, and looking back in the aftermath of the game the new Ulster captain said: “We started well, we lost a bit of tempo getting into things. Probably a few wrong calls, a few good sets of defence by them. Again, I’d have to go back and look at it to see, I’d hate to start pointing fingers at people now and not be right.
“They defended, they’ve been moving really well. A lot of them play together [at Saracens] quite a lot, which is massively beneficial. But we just need to accept that they got a big one over us today.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s something we probably just have to wear, just have to accept it and get on with. Try and learn from it and put it behind us.”
England had more matches with which to prepare, but Henderson admitted: “I don’t think it justifies the gap that there was. Obviously, the points difference and the performance difference – we will see a lot of things we’ll have to go back and look at, a lot problems in the lineout and defensively. I can’t give you an accurate answer right now, not really, but all I can tell you is there’s a fair bit of disappointment in that dressingroom.”
The painful process of reviewing this game had already begun in the minutes afterwards in “wee bits and pieces in our mini-groups in the team. I’ve had a few discussions with Dev about the lineout. I’ve seen the backs have a few discussions, just in their small groups. But no real major debrief. We’ll meet tomorrow evening, everyone will look at the game, look at their own game and take it forward from there.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’ll be many people here sitting in a meeting tomorrow night, Monday morning feeling sorry for themselves.
“One thing the squad is very good at is using past experiences, either positive or negative, to come back even stronger, to become better. We have to put faith in ourselves, individually and collectively, that we can bounce back from this and do a solid over the next few weeks.
“Obviously they’re off the back of a couple of very tough games against Wales and it was a good start for them, they dipped a bit, and they’re back into real good form.
“For us, we have to concentrate on doing what we know we can do well. If we can deliver that, our tempo and our defence which wasn’t there today, I think we’ll definitely be in a better place.”
New faces will be called in, but Henderson is one of many who’d like to have a shot at redemption in Cardiff next Saturday.
“Definitely, I think anyone who was out there today will want another shot at it.”