Ireland flew through the Six Nations Tournament with a robust defense and a formidable offensive line before going to Twickenham on Saturday (5:45 p.m.) to pursue their Grand Slam dream against an England team lacking in attack and tactics. contested defense. In the event of another improved victory, Ireland (15 points after three matches) would retain its title even before the final day against Scotland, its runner-up (9 pts), which travels to Italy on Saturday (3:15 p.m.).

The Clover XV has so far been a hit, with the offensive bonus (four tries or more) in each match, while erecting an almost insurmountable barrier behind: only 24 points conceded. Only Damian Penaud and Paul Gabrillagues crossed the goal line during the Blues’ heavy initial defeat (38-17) in Marseille. Italy was fanny in Dublin (36-0) and Wales only scored one penalty try (31-7).

Its difference between points scored and points conceded is largely positive after three days (81), a striking contrast with England who are in the red (-4). The XV de la Rose, in fact, is not really on the attack with its six tries scored in the Tournament, against seven conceded.

The clumsiness seen two weeks ago in Scotland (30-21 defeat), with 25 hand errors and 22 ball losses, made former international Ben Youngs raise eyebrows. There are “wonderful and gifted players” and yet too much waste, too, he said in a podcast. “That makes me think maybe they’re not doing enough reps during the week.”

“Maybe the attack is not as much the center of attention as it should be because there is a new defensive system (made a priority, Editor’s note),” he said. insisted. In fact, coach Steve Borthwick is working to duplicate the “Blitz Defense” of South Africa, the two-time reigning world champion, with the help of his new assistant Felix Jones, who came from the Sprinboks staff.

This strategy consists of stifling opposing attacks, first, before developing your own, a tactical approach that makes the country cringe. “I don’t get involved in criticism at all,” said Andy Farrell, Ireland’s England coach, on Thursday when asked about the subject. “I look at the individuals, the way they play, the coaching staff they have, the plan they have, a fantastic team that is going to prepare to give everything they have. This makes them incredibly dangerous.”

Farrell does not want to boast, nor does he want to give the slightest prediction: “I am not Mystic Meg (nickname of a former English astrologer, Editor’s note), I don’t know what will happen (Saturday at Twickenham)”. England has not beaten Ireland since 2020, of course, but he remembers a difficult victory (29-16) at the last Tournament. “There were a lot of stoppages in play and it wasn’t just mistakes, the game was slow. I don’t know if it’s an England tactic, but I think we should expect it to be the same.

Listening to Borthwick, it seems he was right. “It’s a very strong team if you let it go at its own pace. So we have to make sure they don’t find that rhythm,” he said of Ireland, the “best team in the world” at the moment.