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Joe Schmidt's Training Tweak That Led To Tonight's Victory Over New Zealand

Joe Schmidt's Training Tweak That Led To Tonight's Victory Over New Zealand
Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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What a win. As well as it being the ideal portent for the World Cup, tonight's 16-9 win over the All Blacks also tends to a troublesome part of Ireland's past: the heartbreaking 2013 defeat has found its belated antidote.

Joe Schmidt said in the build-up to this game that he is still bleeding from that 82nd minute Ryan Crotty try, and that the Chicago game was but a bandage. Tonight should mend that wound altogether, and while he may be too bashful to say it publicly, it was largely his own work.

In 2013, Nigel Owens penalised Ireland a minute before the clock went red, and the All Blacks held onto the ball for three minutes and 23 seconds before crossing the line through Ryan Crotty.


Schmidt was determined to never allow that happen again, and speaking on Off the Ball two years ago, Kevin McLaughlin revealed the subtle change the coach made to training to ensure that Ireland would never be caught again. Schmidt had ended some of his early training session with Ireland with an intense, three-minute period of sustained defence, as that was the average time that the All Blacks had possession before crossing the try line.

After the brutal lesson of 2013, per McLoughlin, he tweaked that style.

Joe used to do this drill with us all the time. It was basically three minutes, and it was completely open play, 15 on 15. Joe would create different scenarios in those three minutes, and you would run through them at really high intensity, trying to recreate what it would be like in a game. It was some conditioning, but mostly skill work and just trying to implement what it would be like at the end of a game.

I think Joe maybe blamed himself a little bit that we had done three minutes and not three minutes 32 seconds or whatever that All Blacks figure is. I think the way the game is going, 20-phase defensive sets in three or four minutes at the very top level, Joe is pushing the boat out in terms of conditioning and it showed at the weekend.

Tonight, history looked like it may repeat itself, as New Zealand swept ominously to the same line they crossed five years ago. This time around, however, Ireland held firm, and the lapse came from the Kiwis: Kieran Read knocking on in the 81st minute, meaning Ireland weren't quite brought to the limit Schmidt had prepared for.

If you thought that Ireland had withstood an onslaught at the end: they could have held on for longer.

See Also: Player Ratings As Incredible Ireland Make History With Triumph Over New Zealand

See Also: A Nation Salutes An Astonishing Peter O'Mahony Performance

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