Joe Schmidt admits Ireland were “bullied” by England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night and has warned that the Six Nations holders need to show immediate improvements as they look to make up lost ground in the tournament.
“It is my most disappointing defeat at the Aviva,” said the head coach in the wake of the 32-20 loss to Eddie Jones' impressive visitors. “We got beaten up – similar to what happened two years ago when we lost to New Zealand (also in Dublin).
"We didn’t hit the ground running. We had tired bodies after the provinces’ European campaign and it takes time to get that cohesion going. We tend to get better going through the championship and a massive challenge for us now is to get better, fast.”
Schmidt's take on where it all went wrong was clinical.
“We were physically bettered. I don't think I've seen a game we played here where our opponents got so many dominant tackles and carried physically in the manner that they did. It wasn't a surprise for us with the side they picked and the power they bring to the game.
“Our ball was slow and that was something we talked about before the game. That gives them opportunities to take pot shots and they did that well. When that happens it forces you to the air and we couldn't get into the aerial battle.
“There were a lot of white jerseys and maybe we were a bit too honest there. They got quite physical with Keith Earls (in the air) – that wasn't necessarily part of the plan - but it took him out of the game and he was our most experienced back three player.”
Schmidt didn't disagree that this was a reality check for a side which, he was at pains to point, still contains a number of young players but his captain Rory Best didn't go as far as agreeing with the suggestion from one reporter that this had amounted to a wake-up call.
"I don't necessarily think it's a wake-up call,” he explained. “We want to continuously improve and I think the disappointing thing is the way we started, we let England get a foothold early and never got back onto the front foot.
"We don't need wake-up calls to want to improve. We prepared well and prepared to go out and win the game, and we have to make sure we look at why we didn't bring the physical edge we usually bring.”