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All Blacks still have share of world record

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    19 Mar 2017     Getty Images

Just as they brought New Zealand's world record run to an end at 18 wins in Chicago in November so they did to England as they attempted a Grand Slam in the Six Nations.

Those two wins would be the highlight of Ireland's season, but it also ensured they retained their No.4 ranking in the world which will be to their advantage when the World Cup draw is made in May.

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Coach Joe Schmidt said after the win: "[We're] hanging in there, in the top four ranked teams in the world – that's big for us.

"You're not going to get consistency because there are a lot of human factors in a performance, including how our opponents play and the decision the man in the middle makes.

"For us we just have to keep trying to control as many as our elements in our performance as we can," he said.

England coach Eddie Jones said the game had been like a World Cup final and added that his side would be better off having an experience like Ireland gave them now, rather than in the World Cup final in Yokohama in 2019.

"I thought we were going to stick it out, we were starting to get momentum and get a few breaks. Unfortunately, we gave away a penalty for 13-6.

"You have these days. Ireland played superbly and were too good for us on the day and we weren't good enough.

"We're all human beings, we're not perfect and that's why world records finish at 18 games," he said.

Ireland had played above themselves and England below. Ireland had played to the conditions, England probably didn't, he said.

"I told them [England] to be proud of themselves, we're joint record holders and back-to-back title winners. We'll right the wrongs in November.

"We're 14 months into a four-year project. We're chuffed but realism shows we have work to do, we were caught in certain areas, they executed their brilliantly and are well-coach.

"Not too many teams have 90 percent winning records. Even Don Bradman got a 0 in his last Test," he said.

England would fight on other days, it wasn't the end of the world, he said.
The Test had a delayed start while they waited for the end of the France-Wales game, which had 20 minutes of extra time before France's late,and controversial, try sealed a 20-18 win.

Wales were under constant French pressure in the last stages from a series of scrums on their line. They lost prop Samson Lee while France then replaced Uini Atonio while he under went a concussion test with their best scrummager Rabah Slimani.

However, Welsh coach Rob Howley claimed Slimani had been warming up on the sideline well before the incident and one of the French coaches left the technical area and spoke with a doctor, who then went and took the tighthead Atonio off.

Referee Wayne Barnes had asked Atonio if he was all right and the player said he had a sore back otherwise he was fine, then the doctor took him off.

The Welsh also complained that wing George North was sporting teeth marks in his arm, and the issue was before officials who will review video in the post game 48 hours.

Howley said he questioned the integrity of the French tactics.

"We love our game, but what we saw in the last 10 minutes I haven't seen that before in the international game," he said.

Scotland farewelled coach Vern Cotter after three years by achieving a 29-0 win over Italy in Edinburgh to claim a share of third place in the competition.

Cotter thanked the players and Scottish fans for his last three years and said it had been 'fantastic'.

Scotland captain John Barclay said Cotter's departure was a big factor in the side's win.

"He's had a fantastic contribution to Scottish rugby, he's built a fantastic culture in the team, he's a great man," he said.