"They're not the only team that's doing it" - Murphy explains psychology behind Ireland's breathing exercise 2 months ago

"They're not the only team that's doing it" - Murphy explains psychology behind Ireland's breathing exercise

Brought to you by Heineken

As their attempted drop-goal deflected over the end-line, Ireland had just been awarded a scrum on South Africa's five-metre line.


They were two points up on South Africa, at 10-8, and as the clock stood on 74 minutes, they were within touching distance of a famous win.

The stoppage gave Ireland time to plan and re-set and, at that moment, the 15 Irish players on the field stood in a huddle.

Iain Henderson said a few words to the team there and then as, to a man, they took in a deep, collective breath.

Controlling the breath is a big part of sports performance and psychology nowadays and, with the Ireland team having done the same thing right before kick-off, it is clearly a part of the team's preparation routine.


On the latest House of Rugby, former Leicester and Munster player Johne Murphy explained the psychology behind Ireland's breathing exercise.

"I would have used sport psychologists throughout my career," explained the Newbridge man.

"They give you cues, individual cues and collective cues, that's to bring you back down but also to go up.

"You see what they're doing with their breathing at the moment, they're not the only team that's doing it.


"New Zealand have been doing it for years."

"It probably comes from an army background in terms of those elite special forces who are able to connect through breath in dark situations when they can move forward.

"That just grounds everyone, and gets the collective back together."

"And it's huge," Murphy explains.


"Different players will have different individual cues, they won't tell you what they are, but they have them. I used to use my left sock.

"So preparation would have started on my left and moved forward up."

"And so if I made a mistake, I dropped my sock, breathe, re-set and you feel you're back in the game.

"There's a lot of phraseology around about being BIG (back in game)  at the moment. If you can have that, it just tells you that regardless of what happens, I'm back in the game, I'm back in the game."


Tadhg Beirne recovered from his mistake

Murphy says that in Tadhg Beirne's second half, there was a clear example of a player leaving a mistake behind him before getting back into the groove. He feels the breathing routine may have played a part in this.

"You look at the mistakes that were made, line-out time.

"Tadhg Beirne gives away two penalties, that are probably silly, one particularly at maul-time when he changes his bind.

"But he's the one that stops the maul in the last minute, he gets in a good position, doesn't change his bind, the maul collapses and we win the game. It just shows you the individual preparation, and how he just said 'that's gone, onto the next thing.'"


Related articles: