Coaching Intent and Player Actions 1 minute analysed
Kick-off: Long middle k.o. by England. Murray catches and passes to Stander who carries 3 mtrs into tackle. Ball presented well & Murray passes to PO'M who is tackled, Ireland clearout slowly but Murray finds touch 2 mtrs from halfway. A 45m relieving kick. Excellent execution
50 secs England 5-man line-out: Throw to Lawes at 2, off the top to Youngs who passes to Ford who passes to Tuilagi, running at Sexton. Irish back-line has Herring at SH position on 15m, VdF at 10, CJ in No 12 position, Sexton next, then Bundee Aki, then Henshaw. Sexton (rt shoulder), then CJ (two hands) make contact with Tuilagi 8 mtrs behind gain line, but he carries a further 9 m to present ball to Youngs just short of half-way line. Tactical mistake by Irish Coaches.
VdF ( our best tackler) was never in position to make a tackle on either Ford or Tuilagi. Neither Sexton nor CJ make any realistic attempt to tackle Tuilagi's legs - neither ever tackle low. Ireland lose opportunity to stop English possession behind their pack and their gain line.
55 secs English ruck ball & kick: Tuilagi presents ball, Youngs picks & passes to Ford, who kicks standing from 12m back, directly behind ruck, with Daley, Farrell & May (all marginally offside) as chasers on Ford's right. Bundee, Henshaw & Stockdale are all within 15-20 mtrs of where Larmour arrives to catch the ball, 7m behthd the Irish 10m line and in line with our left goalpost. Neither Bundee nor Henshaw make any effective block of Daley following up at full speed and he passes both on Irish 10m line and arrives early to compete with Larmour, with the disadvantage that the ball is coming from behind him. Larmour does not use his momentum to jump and compete, possibly because he mistimed his arrival, and Daley catches the bobbling ball as English forwards arrive to complete what is effectively the first 'turnover' of the game. One minute has been completed. Multiple Irish player errors.
Bundee & Henshaw had to get in positions to disrupt (obstruct) Daley's line of attack of this kick. There was a hang time of 4 secs and they had a 15m advantage in distance over Daley to where the ball would alight. Larmour had the momentum to jump higher than the early-arriving Daley and dominate the catch. Stockdale should have already been moving to cover behind Larmour as he was competing in the air. None of these four Irish players executed what the Coaches (or their team-mates) would have expected of them.
Commentary: This brief analysis of the very first minute of Saturday's game attempts to show in microcosm what occurred throughout the first half of that encounter. It is the sort of point-by-point analysis that the Leinster coaches routinely undertake to demonsrate to players the tactical awareness and skills necessary at the top level.
Nothing within the above analysis is outside the capacity of the Irish players involved. e.g. there's no suggestion that Sexton should have smashed Tuilagi backwards wiih his first contact. SEXTON SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE PLAYER MAKING THIS CONTACT. This was a coaching flaw. However, none of Bundee, Henshaw, Larmour or Stockdale should have any satisfaction with their actions to safely field Ford's first kick. Had that been secured and the subsequent ruck ball presented Ireland would have had the opportunity to kick at an English back-field occupied solely by Ford covering a 60m x 75m area.
The cold light of day usually provides the best circumstances for rugby analysis. However much we recognise that our Coaches and best players perform in a very pressurised environment, they must also be encouraged to prepare better for that stage in order to avoid repeating these mistakes.