Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt, seen during a warm-up session in Cardiff, south Wales, in March 2017
Dublin (AFP) - The Ireland team will not be reading too much into their record 38-3 win over South Africa on Saturday, according to ever pragmatic head coach Joe Schmidt.
The 52-year-old New Zealander – whose side ran in four tries, including three in the last 10 minutes against an increasingly ragged and demoralised Springboks side – admitted he had been worried in the lead up to the game but had been delighted with the way several inexperienced players had performed, winger Jacob Stockdale producing an especially eye catching performance.
“I don’t think there is too much chance of reading too much into that result,” said Schmidt.
“We try to remain realistic about the process.
“Sometimes when you get a bit of a lead (Ireland led 14-0 at half-time and then 17-3) the opposition try something different as they chase the game and offer up opportunities.
“We have done that in the past.”
Ireland's wing Jacob Stockdale (R) clears the ball during their Autumn International rugby union Test match against South Africa, at the Aviva stadium in Dublin, on November 11, 2017
Schmidt, who said the scoreline flattered his side somewhat, especially after a poor third quarter, dismissed suggestions a poor Springbok side was bad for the sport.
“I don’t think it is bad for the game,” he said.
“Two years ago we were told there was a massive crevice between north and south rugby.
“I think we have the advantage here. It is our home patch and we haven’t lost a lot on our home turf.
“We want to make it as tough for visiting teams as possible.
“Also southern hemisphere teams are coming to the end of their season and it is offering the north a little bit of an advantage.
“We certainly looked fresher.”
Schmidt, who has turned Ireland’s fortunes round since taking over in 2013, guiding them to two Six Nations titles and an historic win over the All Blacks last year, said the present Springbok side though should not be written off.
“I was really worried before the game because of the qualities of their players,” he said.
“It is incredibly satisfying to watch players go out with that energy and get a result like that.
“I grew up watching a Springbok team beng pretty dominant and I don’t thnk this one is far away from the best.
“Losing Coenie (Oosthuizen, the Springbok prop taken off injured after two minutes) has an immediate imapct on a team as he is a cornerstone of your scrum.
“It unbalances you a little bit after all your planning during the week.
- ‘Uncomfortable situation’ -
As always though Schmidt said the sweet taste of victory would not stay with them long.
“It is satisfying and a relief for the next 24 hours and then we focus on Fiji and next Saturday.”
Schmidt, who praised debutant Bundee Aki for his centre partnership with Robbie Henshaw especially after he was subjected to some strong criticism of being capped a month after he qualified through residency rules, said the experienced players in the team had allowed the younger ones to settle into the cauldron of a Test against a southern hemisphere heavyweight.
“We have a fair bit of work to do,” said Schmidt.
“What made a really big difference is the new guys came in and did a great job but the spine of the team is experienced.
“Rory Best, Devin Toner, the backrow, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney, (their presence) allows young players to have a degree of comfort in the uncomfortable situation which is Test match rugby.”