Watch: Against The Head Panel Explain Why Ireland's Low Penalty Count Has Become A Bad Thing

Watch: Against The Head Panel Explain Why Ireland's Low Penalty Count Has Become A Bad Thing

As the Irish rugby world continues to stew over Friday night's defeat in Wales, Donal Lenihan, Eddie O'Sullivan and Gavin Duffy were summoned to RTÉ's Against The Head panel to discuss Ireland's extremely poor display in Cardiff.

Naturally, the usual - and correct - reasons for Ireland's defeat, namely bad execution, decision-making and set piece, were discussed in detail, with Eddie O'Sullivan also suggesting that Ireland had become far too predictable in attack, as he did midweek.

One new and particularly intriguing theory regarding Ireland's inability to match Wales' intensity was proposed by Donal Lenihan, however.

The 52-cap Ireland international pointed to Ireland's extremely low penalty count throughout this year's Six Nations campaign and argued that, despite it striking as a sign of extremely tight discipline, it might now have manifested itself as a negative in Ireland's makeup; the players are no longer competing for 50:50 balls for fear of being penalised.

Gavin Duffy and Eddie O'Sullivan were in agreement, with Duffy in particular frustrated that Ireland - who perhaps feared being reffed out of the game by Wayne Barnes as they were two years ago - failed to adapt once it became abundantly clear that the English ref was in what you might describe as a relaxed mood while officiating at the breakdown.

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Dufffy, who played for Ireland on 10 occasions, also pondered the validity of Joe Schmidt's use of names like Paul O'Connell 18 months after the Munster and Ireland legend departed the international scene, suggesting it belittles his supposed replacements in Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan.

The penalty theory was particularly intriguing, however, and should O'Sullivan's calls for a third lineout jumper against England be met on Saturday, it may well indirectly result in more bite at the breakdown courtesy of one Peter O'Mahony.

You can watch Against The Head in full on the RTÉ Player.

SEE ALSO: No Irish Players Included In Will Greenwood's Lions Team Of The Weekend

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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