Heartbroken Ireland have no excuses - Schmidt

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Becoming the first Irish side to reach the semifinals had been their goal since they beat the All Blacks in November 2018, and that was why failing was such a hard blow.


"Maybe it consumed us a little too much and we got distracted from our normal game-to-game focus," he said.


Schmidt, who is retiring from his role, said he had no reasons or excuses for the defeat.


"On the night you can't afford to give the All Blacks access points like we did. They're good enough to win games without us inviting them in.


"It was incredibly disappointing. I think we were a little bit flat on the back of having a few niggles during the week. We weren't quite sure what the team would be until Thursday," he said.


That left the side needing a good start to build confidence but when that didn't happen it only increased the side's vulnerability.


Being down 0-22 at halftime they hadn't managed to make the most of what chances they did have, and then they started the second half by taking a kick over the touchline and giving the All Blacks another invitation into Irish territory.


"You've got to make the All Blacks work for everything if they are going to get it. I felt in the past we had forced them to do that and even when we lost to them and certainly even we had beaten them.


"That made it very tough and we were chasing the game in the second half. If you are chasing against the All Blacks and you are not absolutely nailed on, you're going to allow them opportunities and that's exactly what we did straight after halftime," he said.


Schmidt said there were a myriad of reasons why Ireland had slipped from the heights they had achieved. The prize was always the Rugby World Cup but they had been unable to build on 2018 and the error count in the game had highlighted how difficult the exercise had been.


He added that Ireland could possibly have played really well but the All Blacks could still have got over them.


"That's how good they are, they were stifling. They made it very hard for us to breathe and what was frustrating was that when we did have opportunities to breathe we gave them oxygen back," he said.


"They are a super team."


Captain Rory Best said it had been a tough Test match and the All Blacks, at the quarterfinals stage of the competition were incredibly focused.


"There's a lot of pressure on them and we allowed them to get a good start which took a little of the pressure off," he said.


Speaking to Ireland's inability to progress beyond the quarterfinals throughout the Cup's history, he said, everyone talks about the pressure on the All Blacks but whenever you hadn't won a quarterfinal and you feel you had a great opportunity due to your coaching set up and a great group of players they maybe put too much pressure on themselves.


He also wondered if they may have been looking at the World Cup for too long.


"We got too focused on it and forgot to win some of the little battles along the way," he said.


Schmidt had been able to take away the fear factor of playing the All Blacks during the last three years but that also saw the All Blacks become more prepared and focused to play you and that made winning more difficult, he said.


There had been big men shedding tears in the quiet Ireland dressing room, and that was a by-product of putting heart and soul into the effort but he hoped time would see the side reflect on what it had achieved over the past few years.


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