Discipline vital for Ireland says Simon Easterby

Defence coach Simon Easterby admits discipline is at the forefront of Ireland’s minds after last year’s Guinness Six Nations campaign was derailed by a costly red card.

By Ed Elliott
Friday, 4th February 2022, 5:49 pm
Updated Friday, 4th February 2022, 5:51 pm

The Irish were on the back foot just 14 minutes into the 2021 championship following Peter O’Mahony’s damaging dismissal in the 21-16 defeat to eventual winners Wales in Cardiff.

Title aspirations evaporated with a narrow 15-13 loss to France a week later but Andy Farrell’s in-form side have not been beaten since.

Ireland once again begin the tournament against the Welsh and Easterby says it is critical players remain in control and within the law.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 07: Peter O'Mahony of Ireland is shown a red card by Referee, Wayne Barnes during the Guinness Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“Yeah, it’s crucial,” he said, ahead of Saturday’s sold-out clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

“I think every team would see discipline as being right at the top of the agenda in terms of getting it right yourselves, forcing opposition to give you field position or chances to kick points through their indiscipline, so it’s certainly at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“We have to work with the officials, players have a responsibility to do things in a legal manner; the game is tough enough these days without guys having to do things outside of normal.

“Those mistakes and those unfortunate times when a player gets his tackle entry wrong, or clean out entry wrong, or there’s a challenge in the air, players and coaches try as much as we can to educate and try to mitigate and try to reduce the amount of chances of those things coming back to bite you.

“It’s certainly at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

O’Mahony became the first Ireland player to be sent off in a Six Nations match following a reckless shoulder-led hit to the head of Wales prop Tomas Francis.

Despite going ahead at the Principality Stadium, the Irish – who have won their last eight games – were unable to hold on for famous triumph over adversity.

Easterby acknowledges physical collisions are unavoidable in rugby but believes “good habits” can help limit severe punishments.

“It’s about being really accurate,” he said. “Good habits that you perform in training, making sure that we work hard on our techniques, at the ruck in particular, at the kick chase.

“There are always going to be clashes in rugby, it’s a contact sport and there are guys moving left and right and forward and there are going to be times when a player gets caught out.

“Those things are unavoidable but the more we can work hard in training to mitigate those opportunities to go against us then the better we’ll be when it comes to getting on the right side of the door with the referee.”

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