With the passing of the torch from Munster’s Declan Kidney to Leinster’s Joe Schmidt, Ireland’s course, in many eyes, was set to change.
A shift from the Munster, forward-dominated game plan to a more free-flowing approach founded on Schmidt’s highly successful Leinster backline seemed a fait accompli. But the crafty New Zealand-born coach is proving more than just a one-trick pony.
Besides, it would be a falsehood to say under Kidney Ireland were purely based on Munster’s grunt up front. Kidney meshed the players he had coached at Munster with the fleet-footed backs previously under Schmidt’s charge at Leinster to good effect. His tenure as head coach brought a first Grand Slam since the 1940s, after all.
It is too simplistic, therefore, to summarise any changes to Ireland’s tactical approach as simply more blue, less red with a smattering of the white of Ulster thrown in for good measure.
We must dig a little deeper to find the tweaks and adjustments the new man has made that have, so far, proved to be successful.
Let’s have a go.