/ Six Nations 2015

Joe Schmidt keen to emphasise the positives despite defeat to England

Updated: Saturday, 22 Feb 2014 20:03 | Comments

Joe Schmidt said he felt sorry for the  Irish players, who, he said, had put in a lot of effort
Joe Schmidt said he felt sorry for the Irish players, who, he said, had put in a lot of effort

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Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was keen to dwell on the positives after his side’s 13-10 defeat to England at Twickenham.

Schmidt identified Ireland’s set-piece play as a positive, but said that Ireland’s play at the breakdown had let them down.

“I thought our scrum functioned well, I thought we did some good things off the lineout, I thought our set-phase play off the set-pieces was very good,” Schmidt told RTÉ Sport.

“Where we probably weren’t good enough was cleaning out their fringes at ruck-time.

“Their line speed was very effective and we didn’t play as effectively as we needed to, through that line-speed or on the edge of that line-speed.”

"Our points differential still puts us in a strong position" - Joe Schmidt

Schmidt singled out Mike Brown for praise, saying the man-of-the-match had done “a fantastic job” throughout the game.

Schmidt said he thought Ireland’s kicking game had been “pretty sound” but that his side hadn’t got much luck from it.

“You get a mixed bag from any game,” he said, emphasising that it was important to take positives from the game, and to recognise that the Six Nations crown was still up for grabs.

“[The overall championship] is the over-riding piece of silverware that you want to get your hands on. Our points differential still puts us in a strong position. So we’ve got to make sure that we go forward to Italy, as opposed to looking back too much at this game.

“I feel really sorry for the players because they put a lot of effort in.”

England head coach Stuart Lancaster claimed the win was the most significant of his two years in charge and was delighted with the way his team dealt with Ireland.

"Given the experience of the Ireland team, the form they were in, the quality of the coaching and the players that they have in their team and some of the relative inexperience we have in our team, I'm just so proud of the boys," he said.

"It was a proper Test match, two really good sides going at it.

"I thought Ireland were excellent throughout, [they] scored a try after half-time and really had some momentum with them.

"But I thought we showed great maturity in closing out the game and great tries as well so [I am] really, really pleased."

Lancaster was also quick to praise his team's defensive display and, when asked for the key to the win, he said: "I think it was character, spirit, playing for the shirt.

"Ireland, fair play to them, threw everything at us and once we got that lead we just clung on in there."

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