Mar 23, 2015

    Building coronaries and character: Schmidt


    IRELAND coach Joe Schmidt paid tribute to his players after they claimed the Six Nations title following a dramatic final day of the rugby tournament on Saturday.

    Having beaten Scotland 40-10 at Murrayfield, equalling their record margin against them, captain Paul O'Connell and the rest of the Ireland players had to wait to see whether England could overtake them at the top of the table with a winning margin of 26 points against France at Twickenham.

    England's 55-35 victory eventually confirmed Ireland as champions for the second successive season, their first back-to-back successes since 1948-49.

    "It was tumultuous. Exhausting. It builds coronaries for coaches but it also builds character," Schmidt told the BBC.

    "I'm looking forward to being quite relaxed now. Hopefully we can keep going forward.

    "I think I can speak for all the players, that they love the championship."

    He said he approved of the competition's format even though England knew what they needed to do before playing France.

    "The super Saturday that people have got, I know people who had put aside the three slots in the day, and had apportioned various amounts of beverage for each slot," he said.

    "And I just wish that I was able to join them to be honest, because I would rather have been doing that than being sat in the pressure cooker that we were in.

    "But at the same time I wouldn't swop with anyone, working with the group of men that I do, and the way that they prepare themselves and put their bodies on the line."

    O'Connell scored his team's first try against the Scots and praised his teammates after bouncing back from defeat by Wales in their last game to retain the title.

    "To win a championship any year is fantastic," the lock forward said.

    "I've spent a lot of years in close calls and it's been a great eight weeks.

    "I think we'd be very proud of what we've done in terms of how we've addressed certain things in our performance; in attack, defence and our resolve to come out and produce a good performance like that after losing last week.

    "I'm very proud of this squad over the last eight weeks."