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Former England head coach Stuart Lancaster thinks Ireland have built a fortress at the Aviva

Irish Mirror logoIrish Mirror 12/02/2018 Michael Scully
Former England head coach Stuart Lancaster Former England head coach Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster is a rarity - a head coach that knows what it's like to beat Ireland in Dublin in the 6 Nations.

But the former England supremo turned Leinster tactician puts that 12-6 success five years ago down to a baby boom.

And he understands why the men in green have been unbeaten at home in 10 games under Joe Schmidt in the championship.

That record is about to get tested by Wales, who drew with Ireland in the sides' last clash in the tournament at the Aviva Stadium two years ago.

a man playing a game of football © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

"I was lucky," smiled Lancaster. "I think Brian O'Driscoll's wife had given birth that morning, so we caught him on a quiet day!

"There's a huge confidence that the Irish players have from playing at the Aviva, they've had a lot of success there and a lot of memories.

"That drives standards, expectation and the desire to want to win.

Read more:  Check out our dedicated Six Nations section

"I think they're very difficult to beat, but to be a champion team you've got to win at home and away.

"It shows the mark of the team - the maturity of the Irish team - that without playing brilliantly against France that they found a way to win. They deserved it, really.

"To do what they did with the culmination of the Johnny (Sexton) drop-goal was exceptional really and shows how far the squad has matured.

"All teams go through ups and downs, defeats and wins and Ireland have had one or two losses along the way but they look a very, very accomplished team at the moment."

a group of people standing in a kitchen preparing food: Credits: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy


Italy captain Sergio Parisse remarked after Ireland's 56-15 win over the Azzurri last Saturday that Schmidt's side were better than England.

Wisely, Lancaster steered clear of predicting how that game will go if the sides are vying for the title at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day.

The 48-year-old grinned: "Do you honestly think I'm going to comment on that, given the run-ins we used to have with both countries, and all the players I've coached?

"I thought Ireland went well - but I won't go down there. "It (March 17) is too far away, and that's not me just batting it back.

"I think Ireland will 100 per cent only have their focus on Wales. We saw it when we (Leinster) played Scarlets last year in the PRO14 semi last year.

"People underestimate how good Wales are defensively, how good they are in attack, you saw how well they played in the second half against England and on a dry day, they can carve teams up.

"I don't think England will be getting too far ahead of themselves, either, they have to go to Scotland and win, to France and win, two difficult away games.

"But I thought Ireland played really well, it was definitely a step up at the weekend against Italy.

"They were really sharp in the first half in particular. England had a really good first half, Wales came back but England probably edged it".

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