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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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