Hugo Keenan celebrates after scoring with Dan Sheehan and Jamison Gibson Park. Billy Stickland/INPHO
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'The way Irish rugby is set up, they could dominate world rugby for the next 5 to 10 years'

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was full of praise for Ireland after their impressive display at the Stade de France.

SCOTLAND HEAD COACH Gregor Townsend believes Ireland are in a strong position to go on and win the World Cup after Andy Farrell’s side stormed to an impressive 36-14 win at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Ireland did most of the damage in a dominant first-half, scoring four tries and wrapping up the bonus point by the break.

Speaking after the game, Townsend said he was bitterly disappointed before praising a clinical, assured Ireland performance.  

“Well, obviously it’s a very disappointing result,” Townsend said.

“We’ve gone out of the World Cup playing the number one team in the world and they were well ahead at half-time, but we played the number two team in the opening game and it was a close game.

“No, in isolation, it’s a really disappointing defeat against a very good side that we believed we had the ability to defeat but they were the better team tonight. They were excellent, probably the best I’ve seen them play.

It’s probably where we are and where they are, in terms of their rankings. I’d imagine now the favourites for the World Cup, certainly one of the two favourites.

“The way Irish rugby is set up, they could dominate world rugby for the next five to ten years, because they are the number one team in the world and they have a pro rugby system which is very strong, and they’ve got an age-group system that is very strong, so that should continue for them.

“We’ve got to do better. The group of players have got to fifth in the world, which is the best place we’ve ever been in in terms of the Scotland national team, but we have to make sure that continues, not for the next couple of years but the next 10 years.”

Townsend also highlighted Ireland’s remarkable defensive effort in the first half as they held out Scotland. After making a dream start with James Lowe’s early try, Ireland went through 19 phases of defence before a Caelan Doris’ counter-ruck forced a knock-on from Scotland’s Ali Price.

“They were very clinical, very accurate, and I thought they put in a huge shift defensively when they had a bit of pressure in that first 20 minutes. They’re an outstanding team and they showed that tonight.

“I’m proud of the effort in that second half. The game had gone away from us in the first half so we focused on winning back respect and the players’ effort in the second was a mark of who they are, to score two tries. We’ll take a little bit of out of that but we’re very disappointed with the result and the first-half performance but a lot of the credit goes to Ireland – they were very, very good.

“We certainly have to do better, and the responsibility is mine. We believed we could get out of this pool, and we still believed that after losing to South Africa with the response the players showed in training and the games they played have us an opportunity tonight, which we didn’t take – Ireland took.”

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