Schmidt praises Irish fans' haka response

The All Blacks perform the haka in front of the Irish at the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. Photo:...
The All Blacks perform the haka in front of the Irish at the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. Photo: Getty Images
Joe Schmidt has praised Irish fans for their response to the All Blacks haka during their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal loss.

At the time, the Irish fans' decision to sing through the haka caused controversy, with some labeling it "disrespectful".

The Kiwi coach spoke about the disappointment of the 46-14 defeat to the All Blacks, but praised the Irish fans who supported the team throughout the tournament in Japan.

Schmidt, who quit as Ireland coach after the World Cup, said the Irish fans that drowned out the haka by singing the 'Fields of Athenry' were "incredible".

"Just before the game, when the All Blacks were doing the haka, The Fields of Athenry was unbelievable – you couldn't hear the haka, and they had microphones out for the haka," Schmidt said in an interview with 'The Late Late Show' in Ireland.

"The Fields of Athenry was incredible. We had fantastic support, and you're disappointed for yourself but all those people have travelled over to support you and you're a little bit … you're totally disappointed for them."

The 54-year-old also reflected on what went wrong for Ireland during the tournament.

"A lot of things were going really well – this time last year we had just beaten the All Blacks, it had been a super year for us.

"The only thing that we hadn't achieved, having beaten everyone, won the Slam, won Six Nations, was that World Cup, particularly even just getting to a semifinal. So then we said everything else is secondary to us getting to that World Cup final or getting to that semifinal.

"I think we didn't prioritise the Six Nations how we normally would have. We were always a week-to-week team and just making sure we focused on what was immediately in front of us.

"I just think we started to project our thoughts a bit too far in advance and we didn't perform well in the Six Nations. Our confidence ebbed a little bit and we lost our rhythm and then we never quite got it back.

"I thought after the Scotland game that we were on an upswing and the plan was coming to fruition, but we were vulnerable then the following week and we never really picked ourselves up."

Schmidt said he "hid away" after the disappointment of the World Cup.

"I was disappointed. I didn't really want to meet people and have them disappointed as well. I did hide away for a while."

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