Friday 14 December 2018

Joe Schmidt refuses to be drawn on Eddie Jones's 'scummy Irish' remark but surprised by assistant ref actions

England head coach Eddie Jones, left, along with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
England head coach Eddie Jones, left, along with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
David Kelly

David Kelly

Joe Schmidt refused to get drawn into a war of words across the Irish Sea with counterpart Eddie Jones after the Australian's “scummy” comments.

But he has also indicated his surprise at the fact that assistant referee Mariusvan der Westhuizen has been allowed to partake in English training sessions this week.

“I'm not exactly sure what they were, the specific comments,” said Schmidt. “There is a lot of noise but those words won't impact on how we play or how they will play.

“I don't think they can hinder how a team plans. It's at the stage of being boring, which we don't want to be described as, but the bubble we perform within allows us to focus on what we know and not get affected.”

Peter O'Mahony confirmed that his side will not be seeking motivation from Jones' ill-judged remarks, made a year ago.

“You're on the wrong page if you're looking at stuff like that to motivate you. We have a plan and that is enough to motivate us.

“A Grand Slam is there for us but we need to perform for 80 minutes and what happens after that comes then. It's a huge task. We need to manage the 80 minutes and treat it as another Six Nations game.

“We have got through four huge tests and this is no different, we have treated it as Cup rugby and this is their final.”

“What Pete is saying,” added Schmidt, “is the focus is on this week, we haven't spoken to the two guys who have won Slams before. You don't dare to dream what it might mean or what the occasion might be like.

“A number of players have been to Twickenham and know how raucous it is. We will have good support too and that will spur us on as it has in the last few weeks. It's up to us to be spurred by the environment, not distracted by it.”

Schmidt did express surprise at Marius van der Westhuizen's involvement with England.

“It is a bit of a surprise. In retrospect, people may be thinking that wasn't the best thing to do. I know Marius and I would stand by his integrity, we have faith in him and I know it won't affect his decision-making.”

Schmidt feels his side are in a good place as Ireland seek the third Grand Slam in their history.

“We're feeling pretty good. There is a sense of anticipation and nervousness. The magnitude of what it will take to get over the line is uppermost in our thinking.

“But we have relaxed a bit after an intense game against Scotland. We have tried to treat it as another game, there is a similar rhythm and that has served us well so far.

“None of us will care if it is a 3-0 victory because we know what is at stake, to win a Grand Slam and go a year unbeaten.”

Subscribe to The Left Wing,'s Rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

Listen and subscribe to The Left Wing on iTunes and Soundcloud

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport