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Ireland's hat-trick bid now all but over: Schmidt

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 15/02/2016

Realistic: Joe Schmidt accepts Ireland now face an uphill task
Realistic: Joe Schmidt accepts Ireland now face an uphill task

In the wake of Saturday's defeat to France, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted that the chances of an historic third Six Nations title in a row are now nothing more than remote.

Mathematically, the 2014 and '15 winners could still secure the championship with three wins in their final three games if other results go their way but Schmidt knows that the odds are lengthening for his men.

"There's no hiding our disappointment," said Schmidt after his side wasted a 9-3 lead to lose 10-9.

"Mathematically, there's an outside chance but realistically we know it's a very, very outside chance.

"For us, we will be building towards Twickenham and trying to put together the best performance we can.

"The first thing is to get the medical assessment and put together the players we have fit and ready to go."

The game turned on the introduction of French props Eddy Ben Arous and Rabah Slimani five minutes after half-time, the hosts winning the scrum battle from there on, but Schmidt was unhappy with the technique employed by Guy Noves' pack.

"They really won the game on the back of the scrum, but the risk for them is if it's more closely looked at, it might not deliver the result the next time," continued Schmidt.

"When Rabah Slimani and Eddy Ben Arous came on the pitch, the square scrums went out the window and all sorts of angles then came into play.

"That's incredibly frustrating and it makes it very difficult to scrum against a team like that. If the only solution that's being offered is stability what does that mean if those things aren't being watched for? It just made it very difficult.

France's wing Teddy Thomas (L) fights for the ball with Ireland's fullback Robbie Henshaw during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
France's wing Teddy Thomas (L) fights for the ball with Ireland's fullback Robbie Henshaw during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's fullback Robbie Henshaw (C) is tackled during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
France's fullback Maxime Medard (R) tackles Ireland's fullback Dave Kearney during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
France's fullback Maxime Medard (L) tackles Ireland's fullback Dave Kearney during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
France's fullback Maxime Medard (L) prepares to tackle Ireland's fullback Dave Kearney during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's fly-half Jonathan Sexton holds onto the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Frances left wing Virimi Vakatawa (L) runs with the ball the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's flanker Sean O'Brien lies limps after a shock during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSOTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Frances flanker Wenceslas Lauret (L) vies with Ireland's centre Robbie Henshaw during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Frances fly half Jules Plisson kicks a penalty during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Jonathan Danty of France is tackled by Jonathan Sexton and Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Jonathan Danty of France is tackled by Jonathan Sexton and Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Uini Atonio of France is tackled by Robbie Henshaw and Mike McCarthy of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Virimi Vakatawa of France is tackled by Rory Best and Conor Murray of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Virimi Vakatawa of France is tackled by Rory Best and Conor Murray of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland's centre Fergus McFadden (L) tackles Frances tight head prop Uini Atonio (C) during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's fly-half Jonathan Sexton (R) prepares to kick a penalty during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Frances lock Alexandre Flanquart (L) vies with Ireland's Tommy O'Donnell during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Frances lock Alexandre Flanquart (L) vies with Ireland's Tommy O'Donnell during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's centre Dave Kearney (C) is tackled by Frances hooker and captain Guilhem Guirado during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Frances lock Alexandre Flanquart (R) vies with Ireland's lock Mike McCarthy during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
France's flanker Wenceslas Lauret (R) tackles Ireland's flanker CJ Stander during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Guilhem Guirado of France is challenged by Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Alexandre Flanquart of France is tackled by Tommy O'Donnell of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland looks on prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Teddy Thomas of France is tackled Dave Kearney and Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland's centre Dave Kearney (L) and Ireland's wing Jared Payne (R) vies with France's Teddy Thomas during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's centre Dave Kearney (L) and Ireland's wing Jared Payne (R) vies with France's Teddy Thomas during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Frances flancker Yacouba Camara (C) vies with Ireland's flanker CJ Stander (R) during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Sean O'Brien of Ireland lies injured during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Sean O'Brien of Ireland leaves the field due to injury during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Devin Toner of Ireland wins lineout ball under pressure from Alexandre Flanquart of France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
France's prop Uini Atonio (L) attempts to block a drop shot by Ireland's fly-half Jonathan Sexton during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016.THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's fly-half Jonathan Sexton (3rd L) makes his way during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's fly-half Jonathan Sexton (2nd L) is tackled by France's prop Uini Atonio during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016.THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's prop Nathan White (L), France's wing Teddy Thomas (C) and Ireland's fullback Jared Payne go for the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's prop Nathan White (L), France's wing Teddy Thomas (C) and Ireland's fullback Jared Payne go for the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's scrum half Conor Murray (C) passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland on February 13, 2016 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's flanker CJ Stander (C) warms up with his teammates prior to the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's flanker CJ Stander (C) warms up with his teammates prior to the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on February 13, 2016.THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: Ireland fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland fans show their support outside the stadium before the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 13, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU France. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Ireland fans show their support outside the stadium before the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at Stade de France, Paris. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
An Ireland fan shows his support outside the stadium before the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 13, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU France. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Armed police patrol the concourse inside the stadium perimeter before the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at Stade de France, Paris. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.
Ireland fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 13: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

"So there were those frustrations and when that happens and you have a bit of inexperience in the tight five around Rory Best, it's hard for him to get solutions if those things are permitted."

Ireland have a two-week break until they face England at Twickenham with the Paris defeat seeing Sean O'Brien and Dave Kearney added to an already lengthy injury list.

Schmidt acknowledged he may be forced to bring in new faces for the trip on February 27.

"It's one of those things that's still a wee way off for us," he added.

"I still hadn't really got my head around too much of what we'll be looking to do against England.

"We'll use the next couple of days to assess who we've got fully fit. I think it's unlikely Sean O'Brien or Dave Kearney will be available.

"That's a disappointment. Mike McCarthy, we'll have to wait and see.

"It probably doesn't help when the list (of injuries) is already quite substantial.

"The one thing I wouldn't fault the players for is their attitude and effort.

"We've just got to keep trying and if it does mean new guys coming in, they'll commit to the same attitude and effort."

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