Final question of Ireland press conference brings worrying Joe Schmidt answer
Dave Kilcoyne fronted up for a post-match interview and stated that Ireland should go back to what they do best.
There is a genuine concern that Ireland's best has now been figured out and they need a fresh tactical, and personnel, shot in the arm.
Wales beat Ireland 25-7 to claim a third Grand Slam under Warren Gatland and they did so by pressuring their opponents's set-pieces and taking Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton out of the equation. Ireland's one-out runners got next to nowhere in Cardiff and they looked flush out of ideas by half-time (when they trailed 16-0).
The result and performance was described by RTE as 'a horror show' and those words were put to Joe Schmidt soon after Wales' triumphant players had returned to their dressing room. Schmidt responded by attempting to issue a rallying call:
“For us we would certainly encourage the genuine supporter not to lose faith with the team; the team will definitely turn up in Japan.
“And we will grow a bit from this. We haven't been catastrophic but we haven't been quite as good as we needed to be. We've lost three Tests in our last 26. But to lose today is really tough.
“We've won 23 of our last 26 Test matches, we've finished third in the Six Nations; once upon a time that wasn't the catastrophe that it is today for Ireland. The fact we've won three of the previous five makes it less than it should be.
“We'll be the first to put our hands up and say that that's not as good as we want to be. We'll be the first to take our hats off and acknowledge the performance that Wales put in today. And then we'll reflect, rebuild and go forward.
“And as I said earlier, I would like to think that the genuine supporter will still be 100% behind us."
"I'd like to take my hat off to Wales, and Warren Gatland," Schmidt continued. "To be 12 years an international coach, I've done six and it's damn near killed me. To get this one, you could see what it meant to them."
Schmidt was trying his best to accentuate whatever crumbs of positivity he could, claiming Wales had 'that extra 5% you get when you're going for a Grand Slam' and that the loss to England, in February, was worse than today.
"The way the game started added to that belief," he added. "We then had to try to force our way back into the competition."
Keeping the roof open was, he admitted, perhaps a mistake while a few of the squad were confirmed to have dealt with bugs and had to be isolated and cared for before the game. Not ideal but only a minor excuse.
Hardly worth mentioning but worth a mention, all the same.
It was the final question of the conference that perhaps elicited to most forthcoming, and worrying, reply from Schmidt. Asked if teams had 'worked out Ireland this season', Schmidt replied:
"I'm not sure. You'd have to ask... I'm sure that teams will, on their day, sometimes get the better of you and sometimes not. It's such a fine margin... yeah, I think Wales today, in the conditions, got the benefit of some set-piece decisions and, on the back of that maintained some pressure they got off [scoring] that first try.
"In the conditions today, we actually said that they would do exactly as they did in those first two minutes... so, working a team out... even sometimes you know what a team is going to do. It's another thing to stop them."
Ireland have been worked out and stopped, handily too, by England and Wales in the space of six weeks.
There is some serious work to be done over the summer, and in the autumn.