Six Nations Pass Notes: Ireland coping with the weight of expectation

There’s a massive challenge for Schmidt and his management team but they’ve passed virtually every test

Head coach Joe Schmidt gives his thoughts on Ireland defending their Six Nations title and the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Video: Reuters

 

Isn’t it a terrible position for Ireland to be in given the nation’s phobia when it comes to favouritism, a weakness that has cursed them down through the ages?

Oh, you mean the fact that they are most bookmakers’ choice to win the tournament and defend the title they won last year.

Is there any chance of an exorcism to rid the team of demons past?

Not sure there is a need to. Leinster under Joe Schmidt managed the tag pretty well through a couple of Heineken Cup victories and the New Zealander presided over an Ireland team that conquered all bar England in 2014. The players and management had to deal with a fair amount of expectation in that period.

Surely it can’t last though, we should throw in a defeat there just so we can go back to being slight underdogs and then nobody will be nervous anymore?

There’s enough anxiety already in the form of a lengthily injury list that shows no signs of abating. There’s a massive challenge for Schmidt and his management team to juggle dwindling resources but they’ve passed virtually every test.

What about holding the next Ireland training camp in Lourdes?

The hospital in Drogheda?

No, the place in France, with the holy water. It wouldn’t do any harm, would it, to stockpile a few bottles to be used sparingly by the medical team?

Unfortunately the IRFU’s water sponsors are Tipperary Crystal so there could be a conflict of interest.

Couldn’t the squad could go to Fatima then?

What, Mansions, in Dublin.

No the place in Portugal where Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children. We’re going to need divine intervention, aren’t we, between the Six Nations and World Cup?

I don’t think it works that way. In fairness, given the popularity of golf within the squad I think they’d rather go to Quinta do Lago.

Right, we’ll save a few quid and stay at home. What about, Knock?

It’s not possible. The squad are already pencilled in for a training camp in Galway and there’s no way the weather would hold for two visits to the west of Ireland.

I need a sign, an omen?

Take your pick: The Omen; Damien: Omen 11; Omen 3: The final Conflict; Omen 1V: Armageddon 2000; Omen V: The Abomination. There’s a potential World Cup description in there based on empirical evidence.

Pick up your free Six Nations 2015 magazine with Wednesday’s Irish Times.

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