Tuesday 18 December 2018

Joe Schmidt snaps back at 'boring Ireland' snipes from Matt Williams

Matt Williams has been impressed with Ireland's unbeaten run in this years Six Nations (Photo Richard Heathcoate/Getty)
Matt Williams has been impressed with Ireland's unbeaten run in this years Six Nations (Photo Richard Heathcoate/Getty)

Nick Purewal

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has hit back at Matt Williams after he called Ireland 'boring' ahead of their tilt at the Grand Slam against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Former Leinster and Scotland coach Williams has been unimpressed with Ireland's rugby despite Schmidt's men claiming a third Six Nations title in five years.

Williams launched his latest criticism of Schmidt after last weekend's 28-8 win over Scotland, and despite Ireland chasing a Grand Slam to stand alongside the triumphs of 1948 and 2009.

"I find it a bit boring, they are not a joy to behold," said Williams of the Irish team. "They are successful and have broken the mould for Irish teams. They're churning through it, but it's not fun."

Despite those snips, victory at Twickenham this weekend would cement Schmidt and his class of 2018 in Irish folklore, and Ireland's Kiwi boss insisted he will not fret about style points in London this weekend.

"We don't want to be described as boring, but I don't think any of the team would care if it was 3-0," said Schmidt.

"I don't think we would be uninspired by a 3-0 victory, because we know what's at stake.

"And what's at stake is a fantastic opportunity not just to achieve a Grand Slam, but to go a year unbeaten - we wouldn't have dreamed of that this time last year."

Schmidt and Williams have regularly traded barbs in recent seasons, with the Australian coach continuing to act as a pundit on Irish TV Six Nations coverage.

Ireland racked up an all-time record 11th consecutive victory by seeing off Scotland last time out, leaving Schmidt nonplussed by Williams' criticism.

That unprecedented sequence of results started with Ireland denying England the Grand Slam with a 13-9 win over Eddie Jones' side in Dublin on the final weekend of last year's Six Nations.

Schmidt believes Ireland have built steadily since, and has challenged his side to realise that progress with a first victory at Twickenham since 2010.

"This time last year we were scrambling around, we thought Conor Murray was going to play on the Thursday, and Kieran Marmion came in and did superbly," said Schmidt.

"And Jared Payne played his only game of the Six Nations. That character reference that we have from that group, has helped us build from there on.

"And hopefully we can continue to build on that, and that would be special for us in all sorts of ways, because of the championship and what is at stake."

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