Stuart Lancaster Weighs In On The Ireland Vs England Power Game Debate

Power game.

Bullied, beaten up front, dominated at set-piece time, these are terms that have been all too familiar when describing a game between England and Irish Rugby over the last few seasons whether that be at club or test level.

Saracens have done it to Munster and Leinster, Eddie Jones’ England have done it to Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell’s Ireland. The power game –  is it a problem for Irish Rugby and is it the reason English rugby have had the upper hand in recent years?

Not according to Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster who thinks that’s “too simplistic” of an excuse in many respects.

But his argument is flawed.

“It’s probably too simplistic to say that, personally. It wasn’t that long ago that Ireland were winning Grand Slams and we won the European Cup, two years ago,” Lancaster said this week.

Two years in rugby is a long time though Stuart isn’t it? Let’s be honest. The game changes very quickly and Ireland have failed to adapt. The power game has come to the fore once again and England have taken full advantage. Whereas Ireland have tried to replicate and stick to the game plan of 2018 that brought so much success.

When we all know a rising tide raises all ships.

But Lancaster is still convinced Ireland have enough in their “armoury” to turn things around.

“The reality is, yes, we’ve lost against Saracens twice now and Ireland have lost against England twice [competitively]. I think the [2019] Champions Cup final in Newcastle was nip and tuck. I really think that,” Lancaster added

We were 10-3 up going into half-time and they got that try, just on half-time. We definitely had opportunities at the start of the second half and it was only when we lost Scott Fardy to the sin-bin that they got the momentum in the game…

“This [last] Leinster game was different. In the four years I’ve been at Leinster, I’ve not seen us concede as many scrum penalties in any game. I don’t worry about things like that because I know we can fix those things up technically. Perhaps one or two things didn’t go our way that we felt should have done but that’s rugby.

“Going on to the Ireland games and the England games coming around the corner, Ireland have got more than enough in their armoury to challenge England. It was probably more the kicking game in the last Ireland, England game that resulted in England getting that win.

“But the reality is, whether you’re playing Saracens or England or the big teams in Europe, you have to do the fundamentals really well and, on the day, we didn’t do that well enough.”

We’ll see next month Stuart.