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25th Aug 2019

Clive Woodward thinks Joe Schmidt will be hugely worried

Jack O'Toole

Former World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward believes that Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will be hugely worried by what he saw from his side during Saturday’s 57-15 mauling at the hands of England.

The landslide defeat represented Ireland’s largest ever loss to England with the Irish line-out and scrum malfunctioning on several occasions with Ireland winning just 9 of their 15 line-outs on the day.

Schmidt said after the game that he knew that his side would be a little heavy legged following their warm weather training camp in Portugal this week but Woodward believes the New Zealander will be very unsettled by Ireland’s struggles at the set-piece.

“Scrum, line-out, you can have all the stuff but unless you get that right at this level. against a side like England, you can’t win,” said Woodward.

“It wasn’t just that they had lost a few. A top international team has to be winning 85 per cent of their own line-outs. If you win that, you have a chance.

“Ireland’s will be down to 30/40 per cent [60 per cent]. It was a shambles at the end.

“It’s not like you’ve got a rookie team. You’ve got [Rory] Best and you’ve got some serious players in there. It’s not like it’s a new team. You’ve got a very experienced coaching team.

“You would be hugely worried if you are Joe Schmidt. Unless we can win our scrums, unless we can win our line-outs, we can’t win. They’ll go into the World Cup with huge question marks over winning their set piece which is not a great place to be.

The former England coach said that Schmidt must now prioritise his selection and he added that Ireland must get back to executing the basics if they want to contend at next month’s World Cup in Japan.

“You don’t rip it up and start again but you’ve got to go back and say, ‘We can do all this training, all this fitness stuff but unless we win our line-outs and scrums, we can’t win’.

“Let’s get some serious time on absolute basics in terms of how they’re playing, how they’re coaching and most importantly how you are selecting your team.

“There were lots of chats before about the second-row in this Irish team and what I’m saying is I think you win more games than you lose games on selection.

“Get your selection right. Especially on your scrums and line-outs and you go from there.”

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