After Jonny Sexton’s groin injury on Sunday, it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be fit for Ireland’s quarterfinal clash with Argentina. Regardless, we hope to see the Irish back-line firing on all cylinders and using this highly effective tactic.
We think adding a bit of Sexton magic to your back-line can do wonders for your attack, but it’s important to bear in mind a few crucial points if you do:
1) Context Matters
The Sexton Loop isn’t typically used on first phase or as a set-piece move. Instead, Sexton likes to send a big ball carrier like Cian Healey (see 1:48 in the video) into the midfield and then get quick ball and shift the attack out wide.
When you see example after example of Sexton on the loop, you may think this maneuver is predictable. Ireland counteract this with slight variations to the move.
For example, as you can see in our video, the #13 (Jared Payne in the warm-up matches) can run a hard line off the #12 and serve as a decoy runner while the #12 hits Sexton on the loop who then typically hits the fullback.
Alternatively, Sexton can take the wraparound ball with no decoy runner but make a decoy runner out of a forward who is ranging out wide like Rory Best or Sean O’Brien.
3) Shapes Not Moves
Last point. These are attacking “shapes” not set-piece moves. If you first focus on getting your players to understand how to create space for each other by being convincing decoy runners at the right time, then integrating that into a broader attacking strategy, like we see here, can happen much more easily.
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