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Stephen Jones And Stuart Barnes On What Ireland Can Learn From La Rochelle's Defeat Of Leinster

Stephen Jones And Stuart Barnes On What Ireland Can Learn From La Rochelle's Defeat Of Leinster
By Colman Stanley Updated

Alex Lowe, Stuart Barnes, and Stephen Jones, have taken a look at the similarities between Leinster and Ireland, and discussed why Ireland will not face the same problems as the province despite sharing the majority of their starting XVs.

One reason why Leinster were favourites going into Saturday's Champions Cup final was the strength of the their starting XV on paper, which is made up of eleven of Ireland's starting XV from the 2022 Six Nations, plus the likes of Robbie Henshaw and Ross Molony, and Dan Sheehan and Cian Healy who were on the bench on Saturday.

Barnes lamented Leinster's lack of change in their game plan which centres heavily around quick ruck ball, which he argued made it easy for Ronan O'Gara to come up with a shrewd tactical plan to counter it. However, he argued that Ireland have more variety in their style and thus will not have to be too worried after the game, and will benefit hugely from analysing the match and the mistakes of Leinster.

What do you think guys that Andy Farrell will make of this," asked Lowe on The Times' The Ruck Podcast. "Because, as we've trumpeted for weeks, this Leinster team is effectively the Ireland team. Ireland go to New Zealand in the summer, we're just over a year away from a World Cup. What will the Ireland coach have taken out of the way Leinster were beaten?"

"In my opinion," replied Jones. "Your hero Lancaster gets Leinster to play very much in a pacy way but actually rather one paced way and rather formulaic. I thought against Leicester they are a clever side but still very formulaic, and I don't think Andy Farrell goes down that route quite as far."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtaNHm6iC74

Barnes then gave his in-depth response to Lowe's intriguing question.

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There are similarities there has to be because you know there's 11 or 12 Leinster players. I think in some ways, in a paradoxical way, it was a very good lesson for Ireland. It might have been most of the Irish players who lost La Rochelle, but it wasn't the Irish team, it was the personnel and that's different.

"And Steph's right, Farrell plays a little more aggressive game at the breakdown, the Leinster team are probably a little bit sharper behind the scrum. But that's because they're gambling everything on getting this super fast ball without committing. Ireland commit men and so sometimes they don't have sort of a wave of four first-line, four second-line, you can't do that. And international rugby doesn't lend itself, and Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell found that out to their chagrin in 2015.

"So I think watching Ireland, yes it's mainly the same people but they are different teams. And I think if there was a temptation for Farrell and company to think 'hey the Leinster way is the way', and you know that's not knocking them, I certainly got carried away with it for a bit because it looked so good.

"That's been well and truly eradicated now and I think had they tried to play New Zealand at this one and a half second breakdown fast game, they take on the All Blacks at a super-fast game you probably come off second best. Now, they reassess, they might have to think we need a little bit more beef in our pack before we go to this World Cup, but they can be broadly Ireland but just change down the pace of their game.

"Under Joe Schmidt in the last World Cup, they played continuity rugby but it was just keep ball for its own sake and it was so slow and it killed them in the end. This lot, Leinster, were playing so fast that it killed them come a European Cup final. So it's rotten news for Leinster fans, but I think if you're an Irish fan with the World Cup in New Zealand ahead, it might just be in the end the best result."

Ireland begin their three-test tour of New Zealand on July 2nd, while Leinster continue their bid for another URC title in Saturday's quarter-final meeting with Glasgow.

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While their game-plan, which Barnes discusses, didn't get it done on Saturday, it will likely be too much for Glasgow in the RDS, while Ireland will have to muster up something heroic to have a chance at winning a series against the All Blacks.

SEE ALSO: Calls Made For Ronan O'Gara To Be Appointed As Next England Head Coach

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