Joe Schmidt handled his first Grand Slam question of 2015 like the champ he is 7 years ago

Joe Schmidt handled his first Grand Slam question of 2015 like the champ he is

The question had to come but, when it did, Joe Schmidt was ready.

Ireland are now the overwhelming favourites to win the 2015 Six Nations after their 10th successive Test win. England came to town as the only other unbeaten side in the championship and left with a 19-9 scoreline hanging around their neck.


The victory is Ireland's third in the championship and puts them in pole position for their second Grand Slam in six years. It took 4:22 of this evening's post-match briefing for the Grand Slam question to be broached. Ask if he was ready to discuss the Slam, the New Zealand responded with a nod to former Irish talisman Brian O'Driscoll.

No, not really. I'll wait for Drico's tweet to put the pressure on me and Paul, again.

We decided we would park everything for 24 hours, get a bit of recovery, etcetera, and try springboard ourselves forward. We're up in Belfast for an overnight camp, in the middle of the week, and that's where we will start to look ahead.

Probably, for once, we're just going to enjoy the moment and take a deep breath.

Ireland, due to their winning start and decent points difference [plus 40], are in control of the standings but, Schmidt noted, control is fickle. 'It's nice to be in the position we are in,' he said. 'Even our points differential has been aided by that 10-point swing today. That's a 20-point swing with England, which is, potentially, really important as they have two home games and could accumulate a few points and put a bit of pressure on.

'Grand Slams don't happen that often... it is pretty hard to get them and it will be very hard in the Millennium [Stadium]. They got themselves back into the championship [against France] and the last time they won the Six Nations, they lost their first game at home. I have no doubt they will be eyeing up doing something similar.'


The English view

Stuart Lancaster 1/3/2015

England head coach Stuart Lancaster was magnanimous in defeat and congratulated Ireland for taking the spoils. Still, he was not willing to give up on the Six Nations title.

He said, 'It was a tight Test match, small margins... Ireland managed the game well and deserved to win... We had a huge amount of possession in the first-half but there were a couple of key moments - that lineout when we kicked for the corner and then lost - were vital. [For Robbie Henshaw's score], they were kicking it away more in hope than expectation and they got the try.


'We've got two games at home, which are critical for us, and Ireland have two away,' said Lancaster before also referencing Wales come from behind title win in 2013.

Lancaster was keen to stress how much Ireland kicked possession away - something both he and TV3 presenter Vincent Browne are not massive fans of.

'Ireland were playing a territory based game; putting the ball in our half a lot,' he said. 'There was a lot of it. I think Ireland had 44 kicks in open play... 44 kicks in open play tells the story. There are different ways to skin a cat. They kicked, did it well and it was effective.'