The Schmidt legacy

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wise7
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The Schmidt legacy

Post by wise7 »

Interesting tweet below from journalist Ewan Mc Kenna and if he isactually right about the self-penning, maybe it sheds some light on where a lot of critical energy was channelled during the lead-in time to RWC. Ironic if the excercise of scribing his legacy became a negative contributor to the outcome of that same legacy. A bit like dropping the ball going over the line!

Ewan MacKenna
@EwanMacKenna
Writing a book is exhausting for a professional writer. Hugely time consuming. Can't imagine what it is like for someone who isn't used to it. And yet Joe Schmidt spent the 18 month lead in to a World Cup penning his own biography? Imagine if a player did that. Unforgivable.

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blockhead
Shane Jennings
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by blockhead »

Please stop bringing that gobshite onto our beautiful forum.
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Blue not red blood
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by Blue not red blood »

I believe that bitter bollix is a first cousin of the Australian prop, Wayne Kerr ( gotta say in an Aussie accent )

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fourthirtythree
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by fourthirtythree »

If any of the professional sportspeople were so woefully ill prepared and clueless as that man is I multiple sports they wouldn't have a job.

If they tweeted such b*%&!cks they would have their contract terminated.
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Logorrhea
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by Logorrhea »

This forum seems to becoming difficult to mod these days. So much negativity.

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LeRouxIsPHat
Cian Healy
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by LeRouxIsPHat »

It's probably faster to write a book if you're not mashing your hands in anger against the keyboard and constantly distracted by conspiracy theories and deluded opinions but Ewan only knows one way.

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blockhead
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by blockhead »

A little trip down memory lane.
The day George Hook claimed Joe Schmidt had lost the dressing room
Ten years on since their first Pro12 trip to Treviso, Garry Doyle revisits the harrowing defeat that left questions hanging over Leinster’s newly appointed Kiwi coach.

THE POWER OF a pen can be felt every now and then. Treviso, Italy, this time 10 years ago, just happened to be one of those moments.

At that stage, Joe Schmidt’s career as a head coach was only three games old. The trouble was he’d already lost twice and a week later two became three when Edinburgh did a number on Schmidt’s Leinster, prompting George Hook to put ink to paper. “One suspects it is too late for Schmidt to get the team back on the rails,” wrote Hook in his Sunday Independent column. “The Magners League is no barometer of Heineken Cup success but I suspect this is a coach that has lost the Leinster dressing-room.”

Those words haven’t aged well. The coach Hook suspected of losing the dressing room ended up winning four trophies in three years with Leinster and a further three in six years with Ireland. You may also recall Schmidt collecting a couple of All Black scalps along the way.

Yet as Leinster head back to Treviso today, almost 10 years to the day since that first Pro12 journey to the Venetian city ended in a 29-13 defeat, it’s almost impossible to imagine the frantic nature of the weeks following that humiliation. “I remember the game, alright,” Mick Dawson, the Leinster chief executive, recalled yesterday. “A greasy pitch, a dirty old night and a bit of fuss in the post-match press conference. One journalist in particular had a right pop at Joe.”

It was a sign of what was to come over the following fortnight. Hook would write that the ‘entire team has lost a defensive coherence and organisation that had been there since Matt Williams and Alan Gaffney’ – suggesting that unless there was a ‘stunning change in attitude’ then Leinster wouldn’t get out of their Heineken Cup pool.

He wasn’t alone with his doubts. In The Sunday Times, a panel of five experts made their predictions ahead of the upcoming Heineken Cup. Leinster didn’t feature in anyone’s shortlist of potential winners.

Across town in the Sunday Tribune offices, Neil Francis’ assessment was almost as damning as Hook’s. “I’m still trying to figure out what sort of game Leinster are trying to play,” wrote the former Ireland international. “And it could be Christmas by the time it comes to me.” …. “I don’t know Joe Schmidt but some of the things he has tried to get his players to do thus far this season – well, he makes Walter Mitty look quite unimaginative.”

With flames raging all around them, fire-fighters appeared with their hoses. Aurélien Rougerie, a favourite of Schmidt’s from his Clermont days, emerged out of nowhere to talk up the New Zealander’s credentials. Unusually – ahead of a Pro12 fixture – Brian O’Driscoll also made a media appearance, a clear attempt to douse the flames. “We haven’t become a bad team overnight,” he said.

Francis disagreed. “Let’s expunge the cliché,” he wrote. “This Leinster team has become a bad team overnight and unless they retrace their steps and look back and see what brought them success, they will not get out of Pool 2″……. “Schmidt has only a very short time to convince his players that he knows what he is doing; otherwise he could be joining Gary Ella and Deccie as one-season wonders in D4.”

Reading all this in his Donnybrook office, Dawson felt nervy rather than uneasy. “Look, when you lose a few matches, it always undermines confidence to some degree,” he told The42 yesterday. “I distinctly remember the ‘lost the dressing room’ phrase and make no mistake, Joe, too, would have been fully aware of what George Hook and Neil Francis had written.

But there was never any sense of panic because I knew the players had confidence in him. Like, there weren’t any crisis meetings or anything going on, but you’re always having quiet conversations. ‘This guy knows what he is about’, were the words consistently being said from the dressing room. All Joe needed was time.”

That’s something you get in rugby. Even when appointments don’t work out – such as Ella’s unsuccessful stint in 2003/04 – it still took an entire season, and 14 defeats out of 30 games, before anyone pulled the trigger. “Look, the easy thing is firing a coach,” says Dawson. “It’s a good bit harder trying to find a replacement.”

This time they felt they were on solid ground, helped considerably by Michael Cheika handing his notice in a year out. Accordingly, Dawson and fellow recruiters, Guy Easterby and Des Lamont, weren’t under any time pressure to get his successor. “We spoke to a good few candidates,” Dawson says.

But one stood out. It’s generally thought that Isa Nacewa was Schmidt’s proposer but in actual fact his name had already appeared on Dawson’s radar when the CEO knocked on the dressing room door. “Joe Schmidt? Yeah, he’s Mr Rugby,” Nacewa told him.

Other players – O’Driscoll, Leo Cullen and Johnny Sexton, also had their say. “We sat down with the leadership group,” Dawson says, “and straight up, asked ‘what do you want?’ as opposed to ‘who do you want?’ And the general feedback was that they needed a coach with a lot of energy, someone who was younger, on the way up – because the role was different to an international position, it was more 24/7.”

While all this was going on, Cheika was guiding Leinster to another European semi-final, Schmidt’s Clermont brushed aside in a tense quarter-final at the RDS. Talks between the two parties had gone well.

Joe came in and practically interviewed us,” Dawson said. “He was extremely impressive; enthusiastic, knowledgeable, engaging. Straight away, we were thinking, ‘right, this is our man’.”

But problems remained. “The thing is that Joe was as happy as Larry in Clermont,” says Dawson.

A different angle was subsequently discussed. “You have to remember there were three of us in this (recruitment) process,” says Dawson. “Don’t think it was just me who went out and unearthed this guy. The truth is we were all in agreement. We’d spoken to Isa, we’d chatted to people who’d worked under Joe in New Zealand; we knew he was the one we wanted. The thing is we had to convince him that coming here was in his interests. So we played the family card, inviting Joe and his wife, Kelly, over to Dublin, showing them prospective schools.”

Eventually they got their man. So in this context, after such a prolonged chase, Dawson wasn’t overly keen on the idea of impersonating Deadly Doug Ellis, the former Aston Villa chairman who had an addiction for sacking managers.
In any case, there were other things to consider. Between management and players, 15 had left since the inaugural Heineken Cup win over Leicester, 17 months earlier. Plus there were the words of assistant, Jono Gibbes, to mull over. “As far as Joe’s first time being head coach kind of thing, I don’t really read too much into that,” Gibbes said in an interview after the Treviso defeat. “I think a lot of coaching is about relationships. And if you ask anyone, he’s got a good way with the players. Is he Cheiks? No, he’s not. He’s his own man.”

Tellingly, Nacewa’s thoughts also appeared in print, the timing of the Fijian’s interview with The Irish Times giving us an indication of the kind of doubts that had to be addressed in those critical weeks. At this juncture, four games in, three defeats chalked up, Schmidt’s biggest problem, it seemed, was not being Michael Cheika. “Is the new man too nice?” Nacewa was asked.

“Definitely not,” he replied. “I think a lot of people thought that was going to be the case when he came in but he has definitely grown a hard-nosed attitude and he’ll pinpoint guys in meetings if you’ve slackened off.”

What we didn’t know then but have subsequently discovered was that O’Driscoll had already been called out at one of Schmidt’s infamous Monday morning reviews. No one was untouchable. So not only did the dressing room respect Schmidt, they were beginning to fear him. “It’s time for everyone to just relax, take a step back and say, ‘listen lads, there’s not a whole lot going wrong here, we’ve just got to up our accuracy in a few areas and things hopefully will go right for us’,” Luke Fitzgerald said after the Treviso game. “It’s that simple.”

Was it really so straightforward, though?

Two weeks after losing to Treviso, Leinster shifted their PRO12 date with Munster to the newly opened Aviva Stadium, the first meaningful rugby game to be played there since the builders had signed off on their work. Having beaten Munster in their previous four outings, a couple of clever marketing chaps came up with a ‘drive for five’ sales pitch.

Needless to say that got binned after Treviso.

“The Munster game turned out to be the key one in the season,” Dawson says. “We were confident in Joe. Isa’s endorsement meant he had dressing room support from the get-go and the few defeats early on did undermine confidence, to an extent.

brian-odriscoll-goes-in-to-score-a-try O'Driscoll's matchwinning try turned Leinster and Schmidt's season around. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“But there was stability in the club. Michael had been there five years. It wasn’t like 2005, when we were on our fourth coach in four years. And look, no matter who you appoint, there is always an element of risk. We were not panicking at all but going into the Munster game, we knew a win wouldn’t do any harm, put it that way.”

It came, O’Driscoll scoring a late match-winning try to set up a run that saw Leinster win five on the bounce in October and prompt Liam Toland to use his Irish Times column to compare Schmidt to an educated chess tactician pushing pawns around the board, searching and probing for openings.

Two weeks earlier, on a dank night in Treviso, the writers weren’t quite so thoughtful, one asking Schmidt whether the 16-point loss signaled the beginning of the end of Leinster rugby.

His answer – two Heineken Cups, a Challenge Cup and a Pro12 title – was fairly emphatic.

Treviso 29-13 Leinster, 20 September, 2010

TREVISO: B Williams; J Maddock, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, L McLean; K Burton, T Botes; I Rouyet, L Ghiraldini, L Cittadini, V Bernabo, C Van Zyl, R Barbieri, A Zanni, M Vosawai. Replacements: E Pavanello for Bernabo, 51 mins; L Sharaglini for Rouyet, 51 mins; P Di Santo for Cittadini, 61 mins; E Galon for Vosawai, 73 mins; D Vidal for McLean, 75 mins; P Derbyshire for Maddock, 75 mins.
LEINSTER: R Kearney; I Nacewa, E O’Malley, G D’Arcy L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy, J Fogart, M Ross, N Hines, E O’Donoghue, R Ruddock, S Jennings, S O’Brien. Replacements: R Strauss for Fogarty, 35 mins; H van der Merwe for Healy, 57 mins; F McFadden for D’Arcy, 57 mins; S Shawe for Ross, 66 mins; I Boss for Reddan, 67 mins; M Galarza for Hines, 74 mins; S Keogh for Ruddock, 77 mins.
Referee:P Allen(SRU).
BENETTON TREVISO SCORERS: L. McLean, B. Williams (1 try each), T. Botes (3 penalties, 2 conversions), K. Burton (2 drop goals)
LEINSTER SCORER: I. Nacewa (1 try, 2 penalties, 1 conversion)
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Oldschool
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by Oldschool »

Thanks for that GREAT trip down memory lane.
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ronk
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by ronk »

The pundits were quick to turn on Schmidt. Fans and players didn't though.

Leo had a bad first season too

wixfjord
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by wixfjord »

ronk wrote:
October 10th, 2020, 8:34 pm
The pundits were quick to turn on Schmidt. Fans and players didn't though.

Leo had a bad first season too

There were a good few fans (incl on here) who deified Joe at Leinster and then weren't slow putting the boot in at the end of the Ireland reign.

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Logorrhea
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Re: The Schmidt legacy

Post by Logorrhea »

wixfjord wrote:
October 10th, 2020, 8:58 pm
There were a good few fans (incl on here) who deified Joe at Leinster and then weren't slow putting the boot in at the end of the Ireland reign.
There is always a few. They were very much in the minority.

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