Six Nations 2015: Joe Schmidt targets best win over England
Ireland head coach believes defeating the Red Rose in Dublin on Sunday will eclipse their title-clinching win in Paris
Joe Schmidt believes a win for Ireland over RBS 6 Nations title rivals England would top last year’s win over France in Paris.
The New Zealander guided Ireland to last year’s Six Nations title, despite losing to the Red Rose at Twickenham which cost them the Triple Crown, and they are again in contention after wins over Italy and France in their first two matches of 2015.
It would be great to give that confidence to the players; to know that they’re capable of doing it
Still riding the crest of the wave that has produced a nine-game winning streak, which includes impressive home wins over South Africa and Australia last summer, Ireland remain the country to beat in the northern hemisphere,
But the 49-year-old thinks that a win over Stuart Lancaster’s side at the Aviva Stadium would trump those.
“It’d be the biggest win we’ve had so far, without a doubt,” Schmidt said.
“The position we’re in, what we’ve got to play for, the year that’s in it, the players that have come in and out of the squad – it would be great to give that confidence to the players; to know that they’re capable of doing it.”
The match has long been sold out with the Irish Rugby Football Union having to circulate a warning about online scams aimed at eager punters keen to get tickets for the must-see match on the resale market.
Schmidt insists that the atmosphere could emulate the one that watched Ireland almost secure a famous win over the All Blacks in 2013, but it will be another special day for Irish rugby, eight months out from the Rugby World Cup in England.
“For us, it will be a massive game because we have had unbelievable support in the Aviva,” he added.”
“Against the French, that support reached a new volume in recent times.
“I don’t think we’ve ever quite had it like we had it against New Zealand in November 2013, but I think this Sunday it will get close to that.
“It’s hard not to get excited. We’ve been working hard for a long time now — 50 different players in 18 months – and this gives us an opportunity to maybe culminate in a home victory that would be really special.”
Ireland go into the match as slight favourites with another tight game expected between two well-matched outfits that have kept changes to a minimum.
England are high in confidence, performing at a very high level, and tough to break down.
Schmidt has been forced to recall Leinster’s Jordi Murphy with Jamie Heaslip out injured, while it is a similar story for England as Lancaster brings in Alex Goode to replace injured Mike Brown at full-back, while the only non-enforced change sees Exeter Chiefs wing Jack Nowell replace Jonny May on England’s left wing.
Despite much going in their favour, and standing on the verge of a record-equalling 10th consecutive win, the Ireland boss expects another tough examination, which could see small margins decide the game.
“We are under no illusions that it’s going to be a tough day against England, it always is,” he said.
“They showed character and collectivity in the way they came back against Wales.
“England are high in confidence, performing at a very high level, and tough to break down.
“We’re going to roll up our sleeves and try to manufacture enough opportunities that we can get that fine margin to swing in our favour.
“If we can be in the game at the death, and get our noses in front, I think it would be just reward for the effort the players have made, and just reward for those people who come and support us and provide a degree of inspiration to the players.”