Six Nations

Schmidt eyes 'biggest win' over England

2015-02-28 07:56
Joe Schmidt (AFP)

Dublin - Ireland coach Joe Schmidt believes if Six Nations champions Ireland defeat England at Lansdowne Road on Sunday it will be the team's biggest win since he took over in 2013.

Victory would also equal the best ever win sequence of an Irish side at 10 tests.

However, the 49-year-old New Zealander -- who has guided the Irish to eyecatching victories over southern hemisphere giants South Africa and Australia -- added he is under no illusions how difficult it will be to beat the only other unbeaten side in the tournament after two matches.

England are on a good run of their own, having won four tests on the trot, and have in recent times been a bogey side for Ireland, inflicting their only loss of the last Six Nations their fourth successive victory over the Irish.

Schmidt admitted to being excited ahead of the game which if the Irish win would set them fair for a third ever Grand Slam and also only the second time they will have successfully defended the title -- the last occasion being the old Five Nations back in 1949.

"It would be the biggest win we've had so far," said Schmidt.

"Not only because of the year that is in it (the World Cup which begins in September) but also for the players who have come into the squad, it would be great to give those players that confidence which comes with such a win."

Schmidt, though, concedes the present England side are top quality opposition.

"We are under no illusions that it's going to be a tough day against England, it always is," said Schmidt.

"They showed character and collectivity in the way they came back against Wales (in their opening match when they came back to win from 10-0 down to win 21-16).

"England are high in confidence, performing at a very high level and tough to break down."

While England have been relatively flush with tries in their two victories Ireland have produced just two, both against Italy when the Italians were down to 14 men.

However, Schmidt dismissed suggestions his side were boring and played functional rugby.

"It is a bit disconcerting to hear that but I think I am a coach who is both functional and flexible," said Schmidt.

"I don't want players on Sunday to go off all of a sudden and try and do their own thing as England have some big men out there who will close them down.

"But at the same time we have a box of tricks prepared and I leave it to the players to take those decisions on the pitch when best to utilise them.

"If we are as some claim one dimensional then I don't think we would have got our noses in front so often and held on as our opponents would have shut us down."

For their opponents there is a sense it is time for them to turn near misses -- they have won four out of five matches in the past four campaigns only to be denied the title each time -- into a trophy.

Last year's loss on points difference to the Irish rankles especially -- Ireland sealing the title with a stunning victory in Paris hours after England had done what they needed to do by beating Italy.

"We all had a beer together after and said 'we've got to continue learning from this'," said England captain Chris Robshaw, who will skipper the side for the 34th time.

"We are getting better but it's one thing getting better, you've got to be picking up that silverware.

"Silverware matters to everyone. As a player you want to be judged on what you've won. It's all well and good picking up caps and playing x amount of times for your country, which is incredible, but you want to win stuff.

"I don't think guys need much motivation for this game. It's going to be built up, it's going to be exciting. Two great teams going at it."

Read more on:    ireland  |  six nations  |  joe schmidt  |  rugby

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