O’Brien believes ‘The Fox’ wouldn’t worry Ireland

Date published: February 28 2017

Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien believes his side would have reacted better to Italy’s no-ruck trickery.

Italy pulled off a cunning strategy against England, known as ‘The Fox’, on Sunday where they didn’t commit any players to the ruck which allowed them to play in an offside position and slow England down.

There was wide criticism of the strategy from players and coaches alike while many defended Italy’s innovation.

O’Brien explained that his side and himself would have responded better to the tactic.

“I would have known the rules around it. England dealt with it in the end but in fairness to the Italians they were very clever,” O’Brien said.

“You have to hand it to them too, but you have to adapt to those situations and it took England a little bit to do that. But they got the result they needed.

“You have to be on your toes in situations like that.”

O’Brien conceded that England did very well once they figured out how to handle the move but Italy’s strategy did give them a half-time lead.

“They caught them on the hop, and it’s one of those things. There’s a free-flow effect; the Italians weren’t putting anyone into the breakdown and once they got a bit of momentum they were in the game straight away.

“So that’s what kept them in it but England did the job.”

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