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Ronan O'Gara on how Ireland can beat Bok blitz

By Ian Cameron
aco Taute, Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee of South Africa celebrate as Ronan O'Gara and Simon Zebo of Ireland look on during the International rugby match between Ireland and South Africa in the Aviva Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images)

Former Ireland flyhalf Ronan O’Gara has given an insight into how Ireland might go about beating South Africa’s renowned rush defence.


Andy Farrell’s Ireland will take on Springboks in what is being billed as the Pool B decider at the Stade de France in Paris this weekend, with the winners likely avoiding France in the quarter-finals.

The La Rochelle head coach was speaking with Jim Hamilton on RugbyPass and the pair chatted through O’Gara’s incredible tenure with the French European champions and breaks down the mouthwatering clash in Saint-Denis.

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O’Gara, who has become the architect of Leinster’s downfall over the last two seasons, gave his insight into how Ireland – who are largely made up of Leinster players – might go about beating the Springboks this weekend, and he thinks unlocking the Boks’ blitz will be key.

“The key to beat a rush defence is you’ve got to go through it and after a lot of people try and go around it so there’s a complete – I think – misunderstanding of what you’re trying to achieve.

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“For me the key on playing against the rush defence is you got to attack flailing arms and that’s a skill in itself because if you run into bodies, you’re tackled behind the gain line and the ball is going to be held up and ruck speed will be four of five seconds, but if you can identify opportunities for late footwork at the line into flailing arms, the capacity for high shots, which today is a red card or a yellow card on an average occasion.

“Footwork and fend at the line, short passes… if you try to play long pass, long pass, they [South Africa] will eat you up with salt. It’s exactly what they are looking for.


“What you need to do is reduce the space between your nine and ten, or your first receiver. Reduce your space – do you get me, so your nine and ten might only take three defenders, then your ten to the next attacker might only take three defenders. They’ve probably got eight on the line, but you’ve got to know that if you can get accuracy on that second pass, say from nine to 10, and say 10 to Bundee Aki or [Garry] Ringrose, then there’s a potential for what will happen there for their shooter to go for him, but he might have the capacity to tip [pass].

“Whose behind here [points behind imagined second receiver]? You’ve got James Lowe or Hansen… they’re gone. Because we’ve tried to go through them here, we’ve taken maybe seven defenders. That’s my theory on it.

Ronan O'Gara
Ronan O’Gara with his La Rochelle players (Photo by Brian Lawless/ Getty Images)

“I’m biased but you see the excellence of Paul O’Connell, in terms of, whatever day it is, one to ten wins you a World Cup, I’m absolutely convinced. You don’t need your a fifteen-man game, you need one to ten homme and then everything else is a bonus but what Ireland are doing extremely well at the minute is that you have for example Kelleher here, Porter here, Furlong here; all threats all capable playing the ball. James Ryan or McCarthy or Henderson, O’Mahony, van der Flier, Doris. Their skills are very unappreciated because if they were in an All Black jersey, we’d be all [over them], but that for me is something I think doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.


“They’re all good decision-makers and all as opposed to just having your ten and twelve as decision-makers. Ireland, as you see with their phase game, it is very rare that they score in the corner. We’re going through teams now and it’s impressive to watch.”

You can watch the full interview with Ronan O’Gara here.


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Kombo mwalimu 300 days ago

This move can't work against Boks. Rassie is a. bright chap. May be think on how can beat them on mauls and line outs

Cam 301 days ago

I'm just here for the salty comments.

Riekert 301 days ago

If it was just that easy O'gara!!!, this was the problem for Scotland their no 10 or first receiver did not have time on the ball and that is going to happen to Sexton on Saturday he is going to be under huge pressure and will be rushed to pass or kick and if he is rushed to kick not just him but any 10 will not be able to put the kick on a die for the chancers to compete, go look at the Boks / AB game at Twickanham and see how poor their kicking was. All I know it is going to be and epic of a game, Go Bokke.

Chris 301 days ago

All I remember about O’gara is how he cost the B&I lions the series in 2009, running around like a headless chicken with his head taped up 🔥😅

yster 302 days ago

You guys are certainly spending a lot of time on the Springboks, it's almost the world against the Boks. I think Springboks are like the ANC, distracting with one thing so you don't notice what they are really doing. Hope its a great game!

Graham 302 days ago

Ronan has done his mother country a terrible disservice by showing the world how to beat Leinster and thereby Ireland. the three huge disappointments for Leinster in the past two years have been twice to ROG's team and one to Jake White's Bulls in the semis of the URC 2022. All three have shown that if you stop Ireland getting quick ruck ball three four five times in a row you will force Sexton to kick which is not how Ireland want to play. With SA's back three his kicks had better be accurate and if he is being harassed and rushed they may not be. Anyway the proven way to stop Ireland is to stop quick multi-phase ball. Not saying SA will win - oh no - it's far too difficult to call. Knowing what to do and being allowed to do it are two very different things. Let's put it this way. It wouldn't be such a great shock if either team lost. may the best team win. Can't wait.

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finn 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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