Rugby Union

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Joe Schmidt and Rory Best reveal what's making this Ireland side so successful

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Irish rugby enjoyed quite the Saturday.

They went to Twickenham and completed a Grand Slam by smashing the English on St. Patrick's Day - it's honestly difficult to script it any better than that.

The 24-15 victory secured a third Grand Slam for Ireland and their third Six Nations championship in five competitions since Joe Schmidt took over as head coach in 2013.

It's all been enough for people to wonder whether the Irish could finally compete for a Rugby World Cup when teams gather in Japan next year.

Despite featuring at every tournament, Ireland have never made it past the quarter-finals - the stage they've managed to fall at six times out of eight.

But now, on the back of their Six Nations Grand Slam, hype and expectation are growing for this team.

And coach Schmidt feels one thing, in particular, is making the team tick better than ever.

"Youthful enthusiasm is being tempered by the experienced guys that certainly have been there before," said Schmidt. "That blend is working quite well for us at the moment."

Rory Best, Ireland's captain, supports his coach's belief that the blend of youth and experience is what's working so well.

England v Ireland - NatWest Six Nations

"When you look especially at the younger players," said Best, "the way they've come in and not just fitted in but they want to just keep getting better.

"As long as they keep that mentality, the guys that are slightly older, if they keep that want to keep going forward that's all you can ask.

"We'll always want more because we're competitive and maybe a little bit greedy."

The only worry for Ireland is whether that dynamic will carry on throughout 2019 once the younger players become more experienced and the more experienced get a little older.

RUGBYU-6NATIONS-ENG-IRL

Best, now 35, will be winding his career down imminently but Schmidt did admit that "we'll see how we go with that" in regards to his captain still leading the team in Japan.

As for 21-year-old Jacob Stockdale, who broke the Six Nations record for tries in a tournament with seven, Schmidt is adamant that there's more to come.

"He's played every game, and he's done incredibly well and he's growing and learning," he said. "People take for granted that he hasn't played much rugby at this level, or even provincial level for that matter."

The present is as bright as ever for Irish Rugby, but it could get even brighter by the end of next year.

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Topics:
Rory Best
Rugby Union
Ireland Rugby
Six Nations
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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