Joe Schmidt praised the ‘class and courage’ that Ireland showed at Twickenham to beat England and secure just Ireland’s third Grand Slam title.

Head coach Schmidt masterminded a brilliantly controlled 24-15 win at the home of English rugby to claim a clean sweep to go with the Grand Slams from 1948 and 2009.

"The feeling is of pride, relief…," said the New Zealander as he struggled to find the words. "It was such a gritty performance; a real mix of class and courage.


"Some of the play we put together was really impressive. It was exactly what we were looking to do in the first half, in pockets.

"In the second half we had immense resilience, that eight minutes after half-time when we couldn’t get out of our own 22 and they launched assault after assault. We didn’t let them through and that was a massive turning point."

Schmidt, speaking to RTÉ Sport, isn’t a man to get carried away, though he did admit how important this win was for Irish rugby.

He also paid tribute to the patched together backline, which was staffed by young players, some of them in their first international campaigns, as injuries mounted up throughout the championship and through this game.

Jonathan Sexton, Bundee Aki and Keith Earls were amongst the players who limped off the Twickenham pitch with Robbie Henshaw, Chris Farrell and others already ruled out through injury.

"It was important (to win) because you want to break new ground," said Schmidt. "We talked before the game as much about putting together a dozen wins - this time last year is when we started and we wanted to finish off with another win.

"That was one thing, but it does pale into insignificance alongside the Grand Slam."

Joey Carbery celebrates with Conor Murray

He said: "You had Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Kieran Marmion on the wing, fair play again to Marmo, Jacob Stockdale on the other wing. Rob Kearney had a fair few guys to corral and organise along with Conor Murray.

"They will learn a fair bit from this game and I don’t think they were necessarily ready for a game like that from the start, but they were able to come on and do a job and that’s important.

"The players are driven, the leadership group do a tremendous job to demonstrate what needs to be done, when and why. In combination with a great backroom - the coaching staff did a great job preparing the team today. They’re just a great bunch."

Schmidt doesn’t seek the limelight and he watched captain Rory Best lift the trophy from the tunnel. He said: "It’s not my spotlight; it’s theirs and they earned it. Fair play to them."