Rugby: Ireland – Overcoached?

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It was expected to be a game Ireland would win with points to spare. Dispensing the minnows. Building confidence in preparation for sterner tests to come. In the end, Ireland were hanging on against the robust Georgians. So what has happened to Ireland’s ‘A’ game? Where is the team carrying their nations hope and dreams?

It is not that Ireland lack the experience. It is not that they lack the skill. What they may be encumbered by is over-preparation. Over-preparation by manager Eddie O’Sullivan. These are players who look as if they are having too much to think about. Too many plans to remember. Perhaps, too much input from the head coach. Working too hard to cover all the bases. Too much input leading to sluggish decision-making.

Maybe O’Sullivan needs to trust his players more and let them decide what decisions they need to make. Decisions made on the run. In play. Using their instincts. At the moment it looks as if all decisions have been made on the practise pitch. It’s inhibiting these experienced players from liberating their collective wisdom. It will lead to an early World Cup exit. That is inevitable.

Between now and the game against France, Eddie O’Sullivan needs to rekindle and trust in the Mental Intelligence of his players. The Mental Intelligence that has been built in preparation for this very challenge. The Mental Intelligence that has aggregated over the years of playing together. Only then will we see the Ireland ‘A’ game.

Sometimes a coach can try too hard to get everything right. Be too meticulous. Too through. At the critical expense of spontaneity. It’s time for the coach to take a step back.