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Joe Schmidt 'hid away' after World Cup disappointment but praises 'incredible' Irish fans

The former Ireland head coach said the Fields of Athenry drowned out the haka at the New Zealand match last month.

Source: The Late Late Show/YouTube

JOE SCHMIDT HAS spoken about his disappointment over Ireland’s poor performance in the Rugby World Cup.

Ireland were beaten 46-14 by New Zealand in their quarter-final last month, following an earlier surprise loss to tournament hosts Japan.

Schmidt has been reflecting on what wrong during the tournament and in the months leading up to it.

In an interview on the Late Late Show last night, the former Ireland head coach said: “A lot of things were going really well – this time last year we had just beaten the All Blacks, it had been a super year for us.

“The only thing that we hadn’t achieved, having beaten everyone, won the Slam, won Six Nations, was that World Cup, particularly even just getting to a semi-final. So then we said everything else is secondary to us getting to that World Cup final or getting to that semi-final.

“I think we didn’t prioritise the Six Nations how we normally would have. We were always a week-to-week team and just making sure we focused on what was immediately in front of us.

“I just think we started to project our thoughts a bit too far in advance and we didn’t perform well in the Six Nations. Our confidence ebbed a little bit and we lost our rhythm and then we never quite got it back.

I thought after the Scotland game that we were on an upswing and the plan was coming to fruition, but we were vulnerable then the following week and we never really picked ourselves up.

Schmidt said he initially kept a low profile after the tournament and went to Spain with his family.

“I was disappointed. I didn’t really want to meet people and have them disappointed as well. I did hide away for a while.”

Fields of Athenry 

Schmidt praised Irish fans who travelled to Japan to watch Ireland’s matches. He said fans singing the Fields of Athenry drowned out the haka ahead of the clash with New Zealand.

“Just before the game, when the All Blacks were doing the haka, The Fields of Athenry was unbelievable – you couldn’t hear the haka, and they had microphones out for the haka.

The Fields of Athenry was incredible. We had fantastic support, and you’re disappointed for yourself but all those people have travelled over to support you and you’re a little bit … you’re totally disappointed for them.

Brian O’Driscoll

Former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll surprised Schmidt on the show, giving him a gift to mark his retirement.   

O’Driscoll noted the “disappointment” around the World Cup. However, he said there has also been a lot to celebrate in Irish rugby in recent years.

Source: The Late Late Show/YouTube

“We all want to get to that elusive semi-final and we will get there at some point. But let’s not lose sight of what went on before that – beating the All Blacks for the first time.

“We waited 61 years for a Grand Slam in 2009. We only had to wait another nine or 10 thanks to that group of players and Joe. There has been so much great stuff,” O’Driscoll said.

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Órla Ryan

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