Paul O’Connell On The Brilliant Little Ruck Tactic That Joe Schmidt Taught Ireland


Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell sat down to chat about his old coach Joe Schmidt recently in an event in Limerick and offered up some great insight into what made the New Zealander such a successful coach.

Schmidt took over Ireland in 2013 after leading Leinster to successive European titles and went on to completely revolutionise the national side. He won multiple Six Nations titles, masterminded wins over New Zealand, South Africa and Australia and even led them to number one on in the world, albeit briefly.

But what was it that made Schmidt such a good coach? O’Connell said his ability to communicate with his players with simple one-liners was huge. Over time he changed their habits by staying on their case and while he was known for his detail, his ability to communicate these details was key.

A great example is how Ireland approached the ruck under Schmidt, with the former head coach coining a phrase of ‘L-ing in’ to rucks so it looks like you’re hitting it square in the eyes of the referee when in fact you are hitting it from the side.

“Discipline is one I always hear,” O’Connell said.

“I remember the Lions tour when they were down in New Zealand and they were talking about the penalty count, they were losing the penalty count and they kept talking about discipline.

“But you can’t run out onto the pitch and think about discipline. You can think about a whole load of different things that you can do to be more disciplined but discipline itself is only a concept. It’s not something you can actually think about when you’re going into a ruck.

“We [used to] talk about entering a ruck, to get it the right way around Joe would talking about “L-ing in.”

“So you could hit a ruck from the side as long as you actually square up when you hit that ruck and don’t show your number to the referee!

“If you show your number to the referee going into a ruck he knows you’re hitting it from the side. But if I actually hit that ruck from the side and then ‘L in’ just before I hit it I’m actually hitting it square so ‘L in’ is a little one-liner that explains everything.

“We don’t need to have a three-minute conversation about someone hitting a ruck from the side.”

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