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Bernard Jackman Pays Tribute To The Unsung Hero Of Irish Rugby

Bernard Jackman Pays Tribute To The Unsung Hero Of Irish Rugby
Colman Stanley
By Colman Stanley
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With Finlay Bealham and Tom O'Toole holding the fort during Ireland's opening three matches of the Six Nations, in the absence of Tadhg Furlong, the team did not miss a beat.

Add in an injury to Bealham against Italy, and a less than fully match fit Furlong against Scotland, and Ireland still looked relatively comfortable.

Twas not long ago when John Hayes and Mike Ross were like pieces of sellotape over a crack in a dam, holding up Ireland's scrum for a decade and a half.

On The Times' The Ruck rugby podcast, Stephen Jones asked Bernard Jackman whether Ireland's front-row depth can be traced back to former Ireland and Leinster scrum coach Greg Feek.

Jackman's answer is a reminder that the New Zealander was a revolutionary in Irish rugby terms, and one its unsung heroes.

Remember the crisis in Irish rugby. I mean we spent the best part of eight or nine years praying that John Hayes would get up out of bed on a match day morning fit and then it was Mike Ross after that. And if either of them were out, I mean, it was good night.

So Greg Feek came in and rather than just be scrum coach for Ireland, he oversaw a front row development plan where they got a lot of coaches. And look scrum coaches and scrum geeks were a unique breed. We're not falling off trees.

Bernard Jackman Pays Homage To Greg Feek - An Irish Rugby Hero

2 February 2019; Irish rugby : Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

READ HERE: Irish Rugby : The Key Change In Munster Training Which Has Helped Them Gain Ground On Leinster And Ulster


"And often like clubs with lack of resources etcetera won't have a specialist from coach or didn't," continued Jackman.

"So what they did was they realised that the provinces could only coach the players that they had in their professional setups.

"And rather than just spend all the time with them, they actually educated and trained up a bunch of scrum people who are passionate about the scrum around the country.


"They then started to do duty hours on a Monday night, Tuesday nights into schools etcetera, coaching and looking for potential front rowers.

"It's a little bit hard to do because at schools level here  you can only push a meter and a half.

"So certain teams will actually put a flanker in that scrum, so the traditional pathway of props was starting to dry up to a certain extent and having all these his eyes and ears and scouts and coaches out there in clubs and in schools and working with young props or young hookers has been massively beneficial. And it sounds, again, sounds so obvious.


"But we had a guy called Great Feek, was very good at what he did with Ireland. But I think what he did, the rest of the weeks and weekends when he ran these courses has made sure his legacy has lasted and hopefully will last a long time."

SEE ALSO: Irish Rugby : BOD Backs Sexton in GOAT Debate If Ireland Were To Win The World Cup

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