Former Leinster stalwart Shane Byrne believes his old province’s expansive style of rugby can guide Ireland to greater glory at the World Cup.
Ireland crushed England 24-8 in Dublin on Saturday night as they produced an impressive display of clever lines of running, consistent offloading and quick recycling at a packed Aviva Stadium.
And Byrne is convinced that this new-found emphasis on the ‘total rugby’ he feels has been developed so well by Leinster is exactly what Ireland need if they are to challenge the top teams at this year’s global gathering in New Zealand.
“A lot of effort has gone in from Ireland to develop this all-out rugby, the way that Leinster are playing day in, day out,” Byrne, who won 41 caps for his country between 2001 and 2005, told Talk Sport Radio.
“That’s all-out attacking rugby, keeping the ball in hand, offloading and keeping the pressure on the opposition. I think that’s the game plan we need.
“History shows that just playing straightforward rugby doesn’t serve us well in a World Cup. We need to bring something special to the table.
“They’ve now got to take their opportunities, go back to their provinces and try and keep that spirit going, and in their three warm-up games they have to play that brand of rugby.”
Ireland’s impressive victory over the English helped make up for what had been an otherwise disappointing Six Nations with uninspiring wins over Italy and Scotland coupled with narrow defeats to France and Wales.
But Byrne insists he is glad expectations have been lessened somewhat ahead of the World Cup as Ireland tend to succeed when there is less pressure on them to do so.
“It hasn’t been a great Six Nations for Ireland but (against England ) they got the performance they were searching for throughout the whole competition,” added Byrne.
“We’ve had our own problems with knocking on balls, easy turnovers, discipline was a major problem and it was a poor performance against Wales, but at least we got back on track.
“We didn’t perform for most of the Six Nations but in the last game they showed that it is in them, that they can do it and they can play this brand of rugby.
“In a World Cup year, it’s important to finish off the Six Nations on a good point so we’re all delighted.
“We had two loses with one score between them each time – it could have been a different story completely. But to be honest, I’m quite happy with the way this Six Nations worked out.
“I think a low-key entry into this World Cup will do us the world of good, rather than the last World Cup when it was over hyped.”