Joe Schmidt still sees room to improve despite commanding win

The Ireland head coach hinted that despite the commanding win, he'd be concentrating on the two tries concdeded

Joe Schmidt, Ireland, Italy,

Image: ©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

Despite a first win in the Six Nations and some fantastic play on the field, there was a note of reservation about Joe Schmidt's assessment of Ireland's performance against Italy on Saturday. 

The head coach watched his side romp to a 58-15 win as his charges expressed themselves and found space with some fantastic rugby at the Aviva Stadium. 

Speaking at the post match press conference, Rory Best said that getting his first win as captain was a huge relief: "It's obviously been a tough championship and to get a win today is nice, and not to be standing here trying to justify what we're doing."

Joe Schmidt was more reserved from the start however, stating that "I think one of the really unfortunate things for Italy was they lost a few players early on and that allowed us a little time and space to play [ ...] the players capitalised on it really well and converted some good scores".

Schmidt added that "to finally release the pressure valve is nice, but I think had Italy stayed intact, we know how tough the arm wrestles have been with them in the past". 

Already looking ahead to his side's next game, he added that "with 28 possessions [against Italy] Scotland managed to accumulate the score they did, so they're an entirely different threat that we've got coming up next weekend". 

Speaking to Off the Ball's Oisin Langan, Schmidt stated that the assessment of the performance needs to be balanced by looking at it not only at Ireland's strengths, but the fact that Italy were struggling due to losing players early on in the game. 

Image: ©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

"I'll go back and have a really close look at it," said Schmidt, "but we'll still be just as stringent in how we benchmark what we have done. I do think we were afforded a little bit more time and space today that allowed us the freedom to express ourselves a little bit more."

When asked if he would be looking at the late scores, he said he was still disappointed by the concession of the tries, adding that his side can't let that happen, but "I'll leave that for Besty and the lads on Monday morning", a comment which Best's facial expression suggested was all too familiar.