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Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll joined Off The Ball to discuss Ireland and their attacking strategy.

Ironically, Ireland adopted a Joe Schmidt play to score their most impressive try against France.

Hugo Keenan ran in between two deep France defenders after Finlay Bealham and Conor Murray combined to pull the defensive line apart. The play was set up by Caelan Doris returning a kick to the middle of the field.

Schmidt built the play on a great structure. That was his whole ethos. Structured rugby that limited mistakes, controlled the ball and played the percentages. He never embraced creativity or an expansive attacking platform in international rugby.

So for Ireland to use a play of his in the way they did is interesting.

But Schmidt's Ireland stagnated because their attack was figured out. Teams knew they were a one-out-and-carry team. Ireland aren't that anymore. They're expansive, creative and considerate in how they create and attack space.

They have taken the good parts of Joe Schmidt's coaching and added more options. Brian O'Driscoll explained that is why this team won't suddenly stagnate on the big stage the way that Schmidt's did four years ago.

"It's not an attack that you can work out," O'Driscoll answered.

"You've got two or three options....the Keenan try, that for me, there's so much going on there. There's so many moving parts. We were talking about it on ITV, the elongated ruck from Van der Flier and O'Mahony to make sure that Cyril Baille couldn't come from negative ruck to plug that inside.

"I saw Bernard Jackman talking about the spacing that Keenan had to run through between the referee and Atonio, who had made the previous tackle.

"But the big part of that is the generosity and what players do [off the ball]. So Garry Ringrose runs a big loop around and he's the one that has to animate off Conor Murray getting the ball back from Bealham. What does that do? The knock-on effect to the defensive line...they have to give respect to the front line.

"And if [Ringrose] doesn't animate like that, there's a chance that Dupont sees that something is going on back on the inside and he plugs back inside. [Since he didn't], Ntamack had to hedge his bets. He had no cover from anyone from the wing so he was like do I have Ringrose, do I have Keenan?

"Those aspects are the difference between Keenan being able to carry...and him maybe having to find a pass."

That play worked perfectly, but the point is not that it worked, it's that it's just an option in the overall structure. O'Driscoll explains that Ireland can run the exact same structure again and attack a completely different part of the defence.

"They've got different versions to that play as well. You can do that play again and it can go back to Conor Murray and he can go out the back to Ringrose who runs that line. Or Herring runs short on Bealham. He throws it back into Bealham but he can do that slip we've seen from Leinster before.

"That's another part of the Joe Schmidt iteration of that play. So you can do three things from can't defend all of them."

Ireland are impeccable - Liam Toland.


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Andy Farrell Brian O'Driscoll Hugo Keenan Ireland Six Nations Six Nations Rugby

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