“You Would Be Hugely Worried If You Are Joe Schmidt.”


Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt should be “hugely worried” after Saturday’s embarrassing 57-15 defeat to England according to World Cup winner Clive Woodward.

The former England boss branded Ireland’s scrum and lineout “a shambles at the end” and it’s hard to disagree with him. The lineout in particular was shocking at Twickenham on Saturday.

Woodward says Ireland are are not in a good place heading to Japan because there are now serious question marks over their 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.”

But what next for Ireland? Woodward doesn’t think Schmidt needs to necessarily “rip it up” in terms of their plans, but says Ireland need to get their “selection right” and sort out their set-piece in the process.

“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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