Ireland are ‘up there with as good as I’ve ever seen,’ says USA’s Gold

USA HEAD COACH Gary Gold says Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are among the best Test teams he has ever seen.

The experienced South African, who previously worked as an assistant coach for the Springboks, reckons Ireland are one of the “sure favourites” for next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Ireland scored eight tries in victory. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland ran in eight tries against the US in a 57-14 victory last night, with Gold highlighting the superb position Irish rugby is in at present. 

“Up there with as good as I’ve ever seen, no question about it,” said Gold when asked how this Ireland team compares to other great Test teams he has come across.

“Keep in mind that this was a fully-changed Irish line-up, so the strength in depth in Irish rugby at the moment is just ridiculously healthy.

“For Joe to have rested 14 starting guys from last week and pick a handful of guys who haven’t even played in the combinations of this week is a massive credit not only to Joe and his coaching staff, but also the healthy state of rugby in Ireland at the moment.

“The four provinces are obviously all very healthy and their academy systems are very good, so you actually sit back and admire it in many ways. It’s good to see and it’s good for the game to see Irish rugby so healthy.

‘I’ve said it for a while now – they’re one of the sure favourites going into the World Cup.”

John Ryan scored Ireland’s final try last night. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The US did manage to cause Ireland problems in the first half, scoring two tries to trail only 24-14 at the break, but couldn’t stick with Schmidt’s side in the second 40 minutes.

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Gold underlined how difficult it is to prepare to face Ireland, highlighting their ability to manage long passages of play.

“The challenge is that there’s not too many weaknesses,” said Gold. “They’ve got a great set-piece, they’ve got a very good attacking game.

“You leave Johnny [Sexton] out and you bring Joey [Carbery] in and even the guy on the bench [Ross Byrne] is not a shabby 10 when he comes on. Their attacking shape is very good, the skillset is extraordinary and they’re very clear on how they want to play the game and they’re good enough to be able to execute it.

“Then on the other side of the ball, they work incredibly hard. Probably at the moment in world rugby, they’re the team – through the analysis we’ve seen – who can look after the ball for the longest period of time.

“At half-time, we had five sets of play that went on for more than two minutes and one of them was three minutes and 20 seconds – that’s a lot of rugby. 

Andrew Conway finishes off his hat-trick. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“We knew we were going to learn lessons today and unfortunately, at times, we weren’t good enough to handle that pressure. That’s only a credit to Ireland, it’s no shame on us, I don’t believe.”

There was concern for Eagles hooker Joe Taufete’e last night after he was stretchered off in the second half, but Gold indicated that the Worcester Warriors man should make a full recovery.

“He’s in the hospital at the moment,” said Gold. “Obviously he was knocked out but he was just taken as a precaution. We hope he will be ok. 

“I think it’s a head injury, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his neck.”

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