Ireland captain dismisses suggestions national team have discarded former coach’s structures

Johnny Sexton insists Ireland building on Joe Schmidt’s foundations

Johnny Sexton has insisted that Ireland are building on the foundations put in place by Joe Schmidt, not discarding them.

Speaking after Ireland’s 24-14 win over Wales in the Six Nations, Sexton dismissed suggestions that Ireland have “thrown away everything” Schmidt did during his six-year reign.

Former Ireland coach Schmidt has been criticised for being too structured in his coaching style, particularly given the country’s disappointing results in 2019, and fans have called for a more expansive approach under new boss Andy Farrell.

There was certainly a lot of creativity in attack against Wales, but Sexton insisted this is the evolution of what was already in place from previous years. Yes, they are developing their game but not at the expense of everything that has gone before.

“We’re trying to look forward,” said Sexton. “We’re trying to draw a line under last year and even under 2018, and are trying to build and trying to develop something new and do things slightly differently.

“In saying that, I think some of the messages coming out of our camp haven’t been taken the way they should be. We’ve taken a lot of what’s Joe’s done over the last few years and we’ve built on it and we’ve added bits to it. To suggest we’ve thrown away everything is just wrong.

“We’ve really improved in some areas, we’ve changed the way we do things, which you have to do – you have to develop and adapt – but some of the messages that have gone out haven’t been entirely accurate.”

Wayne Pivac on TMO ruling out Hadleigh Parkes try

Wales coach Wayne Pivac had no issue with the TMO ruling out Hadleigh Parkes’s try midway through the second half against Ireland. The centre hit a hard line and reached out for the line but lost control before he could ground the ball.

Had the try stood and been converted, it would have brought Wales to within five points and momentum would have been with them. Some felt Parkes had enough downward pressure, but Pivac believes it was the right call from the officials.

“It was a big decision but the decision was right,” said Pivac. “He didn’t have control.”

The Josh van der Flier try earlier in the second half also caused some consternation amongst fans as a grounding wasn’t visible on TMO replays. But referee Romain Poite was happy he had seen the grounding and with no obvious infringements in the footage the try stood.

Of more concern to Pivac and Alun Wyn Jones was Wales’ error count. The coach said: “We’ve got to be very accurate in our passing game.

“Today we put eight balls down and to turn the ball over eight times through handling is unacceptable. There were generally too many turnovers in good positions on the field.”

Captain Jones highlighted Wales’ inability to clear pressure from their own 22 as a big problem. That was evident from as early as the first minute when Dan Biggar struggled to collect a Jacob Stockdale chip over the defence and conceded a five-metre scrum. Then when Wales won a penalty from that scrum, Biggar missed touch. Both uncharacteristic errors from the fly-half.

Towards the end of the first half there was the knock-on by Tomos Williams near his own line that led to Ireland’s second try and in the final quarter Wales struggled to escape their own 22 because of their own errors.

“Some (Irish) entries into the 22 were from our errors,” said Jones. “The issue for me was exits and a couple of times we got them wrong.”

Wales play France in Cardiff in their next game while Ireland travel to Twickenham to face England.

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