Ireland Under-20s coach's no nonsense approach to new tackling directives is great for the future
Head coach Nigel Carolan spoke to SportsJOE extensively on how his side will deal with rugby's new amendments surrounding high tackles.
Many of our senior internationals have had time to adjust to the new sanctions relating to high tackles in the last pool matches of the Champions Cup.
However, for some our budding young rugby players, the upcoming Under-20 Six Nations tournament will be their first experience of dealing with the new law amendments at the highest level.
As the Irish U20s embark on their 2017 Six Nations campaign, a lot of their training and time together has been taken up with preparing for a variety of scenarios, which may occur during the upcoming tournament.
In fact, Carolan, has brought in the services of one of the IRFU's high performance referees to give presentations to the players and to also officiate during contact training sessions.
“We’ve recruited the services of one of the IRFU’s performance referees so he’s come into camp with us...We make sure when we’re training we have a referee with us when we’re getting sort of physical in training and any of those kind of infringements which will be called out….at times if it means we have to train with 14 players then we will implement that."
It is clear that Carolan and the rest of the U20 management are doing all they can do to best prepare their players for the upcoming tournament in this regard.
In match situations, however, Carolan mentions that the responsibility is on the players and not just the captain, to implement what they have learned.
"If there are guys who have responsibility for defence or other key areas then it's not just our captain getting on to them, we want to ensure it’s all players.
"So the more of this coming from the players then the more powerful the message is."
In fact, it's not just match scenarios where players can be held to account, it translates to training also.
"So, if there is someone in training that’s infringing then he’s letting his team down and his team are going to suffer on the back of this."
The level of importance Carolan and his staff are putting on adapting to the new tackle directives couldn't be any more clear and rightly so.
We have already seen numerous games over the past couple of weeks which have been significantly influenced by the outcome of these new law directives.
In a tightly-contested tournament that is likely to be decided by the finest of margins, Ireland's Six Nations success could well come down to how well the players adapt to the new laws.