IRELAND LINED OUT against France on Saturday, fully aware they would need to score tries to stave off their hosts and clinch a Six Nations championship.
France got off to a flyer and went 6-0 up before Ireland’s first forays into the opposition 22. Their first, extended period in the French ‘red zone’ resulted in Jonathan Sexton’s try. Andrew Trimble scored another after running a supporting line to Conor Murray’s snipe off an attacking ruck. Ireland’s third try was scored by Sexton after Paul O’Connell hauled up-field to get to a ruck after Brian O’Driscoll was brought down short of the French line.
Two of Ireland’s three scores, in the pulsating 22-20 win, came as a result of one-off runners making timely incisions. Speaking on Newstalk’s Off The Ball on Tuesday, former Leinster and Munster player Trevor Hogan spoke of a Joe Schmidt training technique — known as The Killer Drill — that led directly to a couple of crucial scores.
Hogan said: “It is no coincidence that when Ireland get into the 22, they are ruthless like that… that is what Schmidt has brought, that when they get that opportunity, they can bring that intensity.
Joe does this drill, he calls it The Killer Drill, in training. It’s all in the 22 and its against 15 pads. It’s relentless, for two, maybe three, minutes and it is constantly going until the ball breaks down. It’s one-out, simple runners off 9 [the scrum-half] and it requires you to dominate, to win the contact. That’s what is going to get you tries in the 22. How often do we see Cian Healy making yards off 9? They’re very simple plays but they are what gets you the scores. Ireland have that belief that when they get into the 22 that they are going to eventually score — whether it is a pick and go or [for Sexton's first try] that little bit of magic there from Henry.”
Hogan added, “It came from a line-out but once they got into the 22, [the try] came from the mind-set that they’re going to kill, they’re going to kill and they’re going to get over that line.”
Expanding on the the drill, Hogan said, “It’s 15 guys lined up with pads and they have licence to pile right through so it puts extra pressure on the breakdown. You see how ruthless Ireland are at the breakdown. When the carrier gets that placement [of the ball] right back. O’Connell had a great placement in the lead-up to the [first] Sexton try. You watch that and you’ll see that exactly; that mindset to be ruthless in the small areas. It comes from that training… It’s so good that they’ll produce that in that cauldron in Paris.”
Grenoble forwards coach, and former Ireland hooker, Bernard Jackman also claimed Schmidt deserves credit for spotting a French defensive flaw ahead of Trimble’s try. “That came from a power play, where Joe had recognised how slow the French first five are out of the scrum. Ireland wheeled the scrum magnificently; a great strike play from O’Driscoll to get under the posts [30m out], a little bit of blocking from Chris Henry and a great decision from Murray.”
You can listen to the full interview with Hogan and Jackman here >>