Well, that's exactly the problem... How can you Irimi if there's nothing to Iriminage into???? Like in Aikido we always have distance between uke and tori, but in sparring, I would be face to face with the guy and his feet is like, right next to my feet (but instead of holding my hands he's trying to jab the crap out of my face) There's no room to taisabaki or irimi. I would try to back side way to tempt them to charge, but instead they simply close the distance to sparring distance. No attack from a proper distance to channel a technique...
i mentioned irimi, not iriminage. irimi means entering, as in, going in and take over the space. if you watch the video of Saotome sensei, he didn't back off. he went in and dominate the space. you control the center line.