Ireland contributed to own downfall, says coach Schmidt

Ireland v Scotland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2016
Ireland v Scotland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2016

Coach Joe Schmidt was left massively disappointed after Ireland narrowly missed out on a chance to register their first series win in South Africa, saying his team only have themselves to blame for their 2-1 loss to the Springboks.

Ireland, who arrived in South Africa earlier this month weakened by injuries and at the end of a long season, were expected to be little more than fatigued fodder for South Africa. But they came within precious metres of a first-ever test series success in South Africa, foiled only by some ferocious defending and, according to Schmidt, their inability to properly fill out their dance card. “The thing that was most disappointing for us was that we contributed to our own downfall,” Schmidt said after losing 19-13 in Saturday’s decisive third test at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“Just a couple of skill execution things and that one-score game swings in our favour and that’s how close we came and that’s probably even more frustrating than if we hadn’t got that close. “But the only thing is a victory and that’s what we were after, but I still have to say that I’m incredibly proud of the work ethic.” The win secured a series victory for the hosts but Ireland did claim a maiden test triumph over the Boks in South Africa at Newlands in the opener and kept up persistent pressure on Saturday in search of a late converted try that would have given them overall success.

Last weekend, Ireland blew a 16-point lead as the Springboks kept alive the series by winning at Ellis Park 32-26 in the second test. “Sometimes you feel that you just don’t get what you deserve for the amount of effort you put into it,” said Schmidt. “We got a couple of nice invites tonight that we didn’t turn up for. I’m massively disappointed.

“It’s 12 years since we’ve been in this country. To grab the opportunity last week, to have it in our hand and to be pick-pocketed the way we were with a superb South African comeback. “And then today, to have so much energy into a game after a 52-week season is testament to the fortitude of the players.

“But when you don’t get what you’re looking for, you’re always going to be disappointed particularly when it was such a fine margin at the end of it.” Ireland headed home for their off-season break after a campaign in which they played 17 internationals, including a Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Schmidt’s own future is unclear after he admitted to discussions about a Super Rugby job back in his native New Zealand but he feels the tour has offered up a greater reservoir of talent and invaluable experience for Ireland. “There have been some great standout performances,” he said. “What could have happened, what might have happened is something that those players will have learned.”

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