Ireland were not “catastrophic” in the Six Nations, says Joe Schmidt, as he urged supporters to stick with his slumping side.
Schmidt’s men won the Grand Slam in 2018 but could not defend their title this year, losing to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday as the hosts completed their own perfect campaign.
Ireland were still in the running for the championship ahead of the match at the Principality Stadium, but they were way off the pace and went down 25-7, only scoring with the final attack from Jordan Larmour.
But after dominating last term and beating the All Blacks in New Zealand, Schmidt hopes Ireland have earned enough credit that they will not be written off after a tournament in which he concedes they were below par.
“[The media] will set the narrative,” he told a news conference. “We can only perform in those two 40-minute windows that we get and then the narrative will be whatever pundits or journalists put out there.
“We would certainly encourage the genuine supporter not to lose faith with the team, that the team will definitely turn up in Japan [for the Rugby World Cup] and we’ll grow a bit from this.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 16, 2019
“You only have to look back a year to see England went back-to-back in the championship and then ended up fifth. We fought our way up to third, we’re in the top half of the championship.
“We haven’t been catastrophic but we haven’t been as good as we need to be and today was probably an example of that.”
He added: “We’ve won 23 of our last 26 Test matches, we’ve finished third in the Six Nations – once upon a time that wasn’t the catastrophe that it is today for Ireland.
“We’ll be the first to put our hands up and say that that’s not as good as we want to be. We’ll be first to take our hats off to acknowledge the performance Wales put in today and then we’ll reflect, rebuild and go forward.
“I’d like to think the genuine supporter will still be 100 percent behind us.”
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