Schmidt Ticks Every Box – Bar One

With each passing day it seems more and more inevitable that Joe Schmidt will be the next Ireland head coach.  He appears willing to stay the extra year up until the end of the 2015 World Cup, and Leinster have given him their blessing, and assured him they won’t stand in his way. BOD helpfully leaked that he might stay on if Schmidt gets the nod, and there is no other obvious contender already under the IRFU umbrella.

As an appointment, it makes sense on any number of levels.  Schmist’s credentials as head coach are impeccable.  Having delivered back-to-back Heineken Cups for Leinster, his ability to win silverware needs no embellishment on these pages.  Not only did he win with Leinster, however, he had the team playing with a swashbuckling, attack-minded and risk-taking style that was at odds with the bish-bash-bosh fodder offered up by most teams around them.  When Schmidt arrived, he stated his goal of making Leinster the best passing team in Europe.  It seemed an odd thing to say about a backline made up entirely of thoroughbread internationals, but he has been true to his word.  Players speak of learning something new every day at training, and Shane Horgan has described Schmidt’s conviction in how the game should be played.

He would surely bring the very thing that Kidney’s tenure ran out of in its later period – a clearly defined playing identity and attacking gameplan.  Kidney’s Ireland for the most part proved themselves an organised defensive unit, and were particularly effective in executing choke tackle turnovers, but it never appeared to the outsider that attack with ball in hand received the same attention.

Joe Schmidt, a Kiwi back himself in his playing days, lives and breathes attacking rugby, and his expertise is in sourcing and exploiting space on the rugby pitch.  His coaching style is based on improving accuracy with an emphasis on repetitions of moves until they become ingrained in the muscle memory.  When Luke Fitzgerald ran the length of the pitch to score against Bath, the space had been created for him because the passes to get the ball across the openside of the pitch were all at chest height in front of the catcher – nothing more complicated than that.

Whether he can transfer that accuracy to test level remains to be seen. Will his working methods transfer across to the international game where he sees the players less often, and muscle memory is less easy to build up?  One thing’s for sure – the IRFU will continue to assist him as they did Kidney with mid-season training camps, where he can take his players out of their provincial environments for a week.

If there is a wrinkle, it’s that Schmidt – like Kidney – has arrived with a certain amount of provincial baggage.  It’s reasonable to argue that this shouldn’t matter, and that the best man for the job is the best man for the job, but in an era where support and enthusiasm for Team Ireland is at a low ebb, the fact that Schmidt will be seen by many as Leinster-affiliated will do little to unify a fragmented support base, and is something the IRFU should be aware of.  But as seen in the early days of Kidney’s tenure, this can be overcome – only temporarily, however – by posting winning results. It’s also worth noting that at Leinster he had a squad that bought into his vision for the game, which enabled him to hit the ground running. Munster have had a difficult season adjusting to a style that doesn’t seem to fit, but then again the international contingent have been their standout players this year – the best players have the ability to adapt and thrive.

Hints as to what Schmidt’s coaching team will look like have been thin on the ground, but Kiss and Smal should be thanked for their time and moved on.  Fresh voices are the order of the day, and with Schmidt already familiar to the Leinster players in his squad, he should be looking to bring in at least one new voice.  With Schmidt an expert on back play, it’s hard to see how Les Kiss would retain anything like the significant role he had as Kidney’s right hand man.  The only leftover from the previous regime should be Axel Foley.  It makes sense to retain a young and well regarded Irish coach on the ticket, and would help to smooth over the Leinster-Munster divide somewhat.

How Ulster will feel about that is an interesting question, but the reality is that its the Leinster-Munster relationship that is the woodworm inside the edifice of Irish rugby – the irrationality and bitterness of the relationship was captured in Cite-gate last week (note: comments about Cite-gate will be deleted – this article is about Jow Schmidt). All rugby fans on the island will be hoping Schmidt’s Ireland can forge an identity of their own, a Team Ireland that fans can stand behind, playing rugby that they can be proud of, and (hopefully) bringing home silverware with the same frequency that the provinces do.

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62 Comments

  1. Speaking as an Ulster fan, I think Schmidt has more than earned his spot. Leinster schooled Ulster in the Heineken Cup Final last year, and if we got a little back this year, it was partially a result of that schooling (plus, circumstances). With Ulster’s academy having produced such a strong crop in the last few seasons, I think we’re capable of distracting from the Leinster-Munster axis. Enough to ease some of the perennial begrudgery, perhaps?

  2. Shelflife68

     /  April 22, 2013

    Nice article Whiff and it too ticks all the boxes except one, Yes the main relationship issues that may need to be ironed out are the Leinster Munster divide and Ulster seem to be happy at the moment and id say that the Schmidt style of play will suit the Ulster players as well.

    However there are 4 provinces in Ireland last time I checked and as usual Connacht are ignored because well who gives a shite what Connacht think.

    The last extended squad included 3 Connacht players, 1 player is on the full team and 2 started for the wolfhounds.

    • Amiga500

       /  April 22, 2013

      I agree with you – Connacht are unfairly neglected.

      The debate over the HEC qualifying could be a key moment for Connacht.

      No longer would their European aspirations be based on either another province winning in Europe or perhaps more critically, on them beating one of the other 3 provinces. The IRFU may feel more comfortable backing Connacht to grow if they know it wouldn’t be to the possible detriment of Leinster/Munster/Ulster’s HEC qualification [I know that’s a horrible thing to say – but it is probably an accurate reflection of thoughts in the IRFU].

  3. Cian

     /  April 22, 2013

    Thanks for putting in the time to write these articles, folks, always an interesting read. As a die-hard Munster fan with no affection for Leinster whatsoever, I’d be very happy to see Schmidt as head coach with free reign over his choice of staff. He seems to be an excellent coach. I would hope, too, that he’d be given some time to get things working smoothly, although unfortunately that will be constrained given how close the WC is. I think a lot of other Munster fans would feel the same. Some problems could arise with perceived bias in selection if Leinster players do get the nod on marginal calls, but I have always believed that criticism of a coach in those situations is not useful at all.

  4. Swiwi

     /  April 22, 2013

    As a Kiwi, I don’t think Schmidt will let himself be tainted by the Munster-Leinster rivalry. The NZ equivalent would be Auckland-Canterbury, but the country always rallies around the ABs. It might be prudent, nevertheless, for him to find a Munsterman for the coaching panel…but then all the recent Munster head-coaches have been Australasian. Once his first squad is announced, though, and it becomes obvious he has picked on form, I doubt there’ll be too many grumblings from any of the 4 provinces, especially if the wins keep clocking up.

  5. Len

     /  April 22, 2013

    If this actually happens then I will be genuinely excited for Ireland for the first time in what seems like an age. As a Leinster fan I worry what will happen if we loose the mastermind on top of all the rest!

  6. RDS Curva Nord

     /  April 22, 2013

    Good man, spot on
    I also heard about his OCD-ish attention to detail, endless repetition until it is just perfect…are the minutiae better suited to the daily grind of club rather than the seasonal festivals of country?…

    • This is a pertinent question, and one we only briefly touched on in the above. We’re about to find out I guess.

  7. Laurence Rocke

     /  April 22, 2013

    I think Joe Schmidt would be a great appointment, with one caveat, of which I am sure he is well aware and needs to address before a deal is sealed. That is this utter nonsense of the National Team Review Committee having an interest in what the coach is doing, in the sense that he apparently has to speak to them before matches and justify his selections/tactics, etc. I have no problem with him having targets and performance indicators that are considered a few times per season (after the 6N, the June matches and the November series seems appropriate) but that should be all. Time to move on from this amateur meddling and for the IRFU to become a fully-professional outfit.

    • Len

       /  April 22, 2013

      I’d agree with that. I don’t understand why this is still part of the professional game in Ireland. Maybe what’s needed is a foreign coach like JS to come in and change those aspects of the game.

  8. If Joe the Kiwi gets tainted with some pro-Leinster (read, anti-other provinces) brush from the get go, the people responsible should have their opinions ignored. Fuck ’em, frankly. This country has enough problems without sport – which is supposed to be fun – exacerbating social prejudices and/or feeding the bitterness of bigots.

    However, my one fear is of another box unticked or, rather, yet to be examined. JS’s successes speak for themselves, but will such a micromanaging, hands-on coach translate seamlessly to international rugby, where it is simply not possible to have the day-after-day access to training to impose your will upon the squad (and which turned Leinster from a HEC championship team into the HEC championship team)?

    I do worry that the methods that have proved so successful will not fit an international side. However, this worry is secondary to my strong conviction that he is the best man for the job and almost a dream appointment. If he can get Ireland playing like Leinster in the past few years I will be delighted.

    • LeftBank

       /  April 22, 2013

      The All Black coaches make a point of sitting down with their S15 coaches at the start of the year and outlining the most important points of their philosophy and how that should filter down into the training regimes of the franchises. They also meet regularly during the year to give advice and updates on style of play etc. This is part of the reason that the ABs can make a relatively smooth transition once they come into camp together: they are all used to the national style of play.

      Maybe it’s time a similar system was implemented here? With all 4 provinces likely to have antipodean coaches next year and Schmidt as Ireland coach maybe they would be very receptive to developing a style and coaching pattern across all four provinces?

      • Amiga500

         /  April 22, 2013

        You inadvertently raise another point….

        All 4 provinces won’t necessarily have antipodean coaches next year. Who is gonna replace Joe Schmidt at Leinster? I seen Dingo Deans was an early runner in the (for the moment) theoretical race…

      • I agree with this, especially as the one crucial area appears to be handling (in the fundamental sense), with a lot of repetitive drills carried out to improve skills generally.

        As this isn’t tactical training, in theory it could be implemented as something to do for all the provinces, while also allowing the individual coaches 99% of the autonomy they enjoy now.

        Plus, I don’t imagine any of Anscombe, Penney or Pat Lam will particularly object to refining their players’ handling skills – the sharpening of which will improve the new Ulster and Munster styles (which, like Leinster albeit all different in the specifics, are passing styles).

        • ORiordan

           /  April 22, 2013

          Yeah, I’d think Schmidt would be pretty straight with a provincial coach and say that he didn’t think that player x’s skills were up to scratch in a particular area and this was holding back his chances of selection for Ireland.

  9. Leinsterlion

     /  April 22, 2013

    With White ruling himself out, its to our fortune we have one of, if not the best coach in Europe plying his trade on our doorstep. If the IRFU bungle this deal I think “the incident that must not be named” will pale in comparison to the media mud slinging and bitterness the rugby scene will devolve into. Any coach aside from Schmidt will be walking into the job already on the hot-seat, particularly with Schmidt still on these shores. As for keeping Axel involved, I think Schmidt should have complete autonomy and control, if he wants a carpenters son from Limerick as a kicking coach, that should be his prerogative. A clean break from the Kidney junta is needed.
    I have to disagree on one issue WOC, the bitterness and deepening rivalry between Munster and Leinster can only be good for Irish rugby and kick on competition for places. As long as the bitterness does not spill onto the pitch in an egregious fashion and is kept within the laws of the game all will be well. To describe it as a “woodworm” is doing it a disservice. Every country has heated derby’s and deep rivalry’s, and that pressure cooker in domestic games creates international players who can keep their head in the most testing of international games.
    The tension and pressure generated by relatively meaningless games between the provinces can only be good for the players heads, the pressure kicks in these games are about HC/international rugby standard. And that is all down to the fans & players buying into it.
    I for one enjoy the banter between the fans, long may it continue!

    • Amiga500

       /  April 22, 2013

      Is it really that bitter?

      Would young Andrew Conway be moving from Dublin to Limerick if both clubs really couldn’t stand one another?

      Or is the acrimony more from the support-base than anything else? [erm… that could be – is the acrimony more from the support base reacting to the bias of certain pundits/journalists for or against any particular province…]

      • Leinsterlion

         /  April 22, 2013

        I think the journalist factor has to be taken into account, for stirring it up and taking outrageous positions just to fan the flames(garner page views), I think there is an element of bitterness for the players, the intensity in every game would back that up. No other interpro has that physicality. I think the fact that Munster turned up for a meaningless(for them) game with a full complement, says how much winning against Leinster means for them. The O’gara celebration in 06 and the JS celebration in 09 shows the players care. I think when the hammered us in Lansdowne, it mattered to the players on both sides.
        The bias and nuclear fallout from Kidneys demolition of the international team brought this divide to the fore along with “the incident that shall not be named”. There was genuine interpro bitterness between the fans. I think there is a real rivalry there, underneath all the media bluster.

  10. I will be very interested to see what Scidmt does. Only about 20 matches to the next World Cup there won’t be much time for experimenting.

    Even do all these injuries have cost us games recently I think if we can get everyone back to full health we will have a really decent 30 man squad with good exposure due to them which is a positive.

    What do ye think Schidmts targets will be? 3 wins in the Six nations and 2 in the forthcoming November?

    • I believe our three November tests are, in this order, Samoa, Australia, New Zealand.

      Don’t care who the coach is, two wins would be a great result. However, one win would be disappointing… oh well, no-one ever said being an international coach was a piece of piss.

      I think five wins over the eight games (6N included) would represent a foothold return, on the back of the past couple of years: not a disgrace, something to build on. That’s probably a sensible minimum expectation.

  11. Hookisms and Hyperbole

     /  April 22, 2013

    Why should Foley be kept on as a fillip to Munster rugby fans and players? If Schmidt can’t be trusted to pick players on form rather than inherent bias then he has no place in the job. Foley should only be kept on if he is a good enough coach. I cannot think of one single measurable improvement he has made to the defensive side of Ireland’s game since he took over from Kiss. If anything the Irish defence has become more passive and relying on attritional efforts of players mixed with the odd, brave player like Gilroy shooting from the line. Kiss was markedly better in this role yet you say he should be jettisoned? Should he really be removed due to the incompetence of a head coach who put him in a job he knew nothing about?

    • I agree, but optics are important up to a point. At the end of the day the IRFU need to put bums on seats and getting everyone to rally around Team Ireland is what’s going to do the business. If Foley was a poor coach obviously it would make no sense, but he comes with a good reputation.

      • pete (buachaill on eirne)

         /  April 24, 2013

        Hmm I disagree with this, it isn’t about rallying around Ireland it is about making Ireland as good as it can be as a rugby team. That is the important bit in my books. I am with Hookie on this one I gotta say.

        You touched on it in the main article, “it” being that some of the Munster players found it hard to adapt under Penny this year. This is true. This leads me to how Ireland should play: based on body type, the body type of our opposition (generally larger than our own) and our strengths, I would conclude that we should be playing in a style somewhere between Ulster’s and Leinster’s. We are not big enough to do “a Munster”. Even if we put in the Munster team they would have to deal with teams much bigger and stronger than they do at HCup level or Rabo (S.Africa, Wales, England, NZ). The Munster style is not a runner anymore for Ireland as I think Kidney’s reign would prove.

        Ireland would be best suited to multi-optioned attacks with dummy runners, offloading out of the tackle to create as few breakdowns as possible. The game should be played at pace and our skill level should be utilised to move the ball and by definition the defence.

        Returning to my original point, if Munster players (or any other players) can not play this game (I personally think this plan is the way to go 100%) then they should not make the team unless no one else can either or the drop off in standard is massive.

        We should not be putting in any players just to keep a balance provincially. Flip, if Connacht’s lads were the best guys and suited our gameplan most then they should be the one’s in the Green (Irish) jerseys.

        Sentimentality or trying to keep people happy has absolutely no place in International rugby

  12. The very highly regarded Irish coach of a top London-based P’ship side told me at a pre-6N bunfight that Joe would not take the irish job and was going home for genuine family reasons including the health of his youngest.

    For him to have now decided to stay and take the job shows how utterly serious and professional he is about it. For those reasons there should be no interference in the selection of his coaching ticket, no ludicrous “shamatuer days” meetings with this. that or the other IRFU committees and if anybody with any provincial axe to grind does not like his selections, tactics or approach let them sling their hook.

    He should be judged, as Kidney was not, on results, end of.

  13. Mary Hinge

     /  April 22, 2013

    I hear Eddie O’Sullivan is already dusting down his play book for Leinster next season. And rightly so! We cannot have all four provinces coached by antipodeans, and doesn’t he live in Moylough…………………

    • Connachtexile

       /  April 22, 2013

      Agreed! EOS for Leinster! I’ll call Vince Hogan and get the ball rolling.

    • TJ Hooker

       /  April 22, 2013

      If it’s an available coach with an international pedigree and a successful track record they seek then surely there’s only one man for the job…Ladies and gentleman, Leinster’s next coach – Mr. Peter deVilliers.

    • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

       /  April 22, 2013

      Unlike players, there are no restrictions on who can coach what team. So any mention of a coach having to be Irish for any job in the Irish system stinks of crony amateurism.

      Up with this, no one should put.

      All coaches should be the best man for the job, at the right time, at the best price possible. Any other fanciful criteria are nonsensical.

      • Mary Hinge

         /  April 22, 2013

        Your irony antennae not working today Cillian?

        • Bold Mary Hinge.

          Though Moylough is only 90 minutes from Carton House, that new motorway’s a great thing…

        • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

           /  April 22, 2013

          I knew you were fishing as soon as hit post.

          Still, you see the same thing mentioned about all the big coaching jobs, that we need Irish coaches. I stand by what I said

    • Mary, I must say the lovely ring to the phrase “Michael Bradley’s Leinster” swings the appointment in that direction…

    • pete (buachaill on eirne)

       /  April 24, 2013

      Why can’t we have all four provinces coached by foreigners? If they are the best men for the job then we absolutely should have four foreigners at our provinces.

  14. Sound Steve

     /  April 22, 2013

    While I agree in principle that Schmidt should have free rein in selecting his backroom staff, I think the point being made is that players from other provinces should not feel like they are getting called up to represent Leinster rather than Ireland. It would certainly alienate players from other provinces if Schmidt brought his Leinster staff up to Ireland. I’m not suggesting that he will do this; he comes across as a very shrewd operator so i wouldn’t expect it.

    I also firmly believe that there will be an inherent bias from any coach who steps up from a provincial post to the international job and I don’t expect Schmidt to be any different. Schmidt knows the Leinster squad intimately and has, and will continue to have, insider knowledge on the Leinster squad that he simply will never get to have with players from the other provinces. So, when it comes to selection and a truly marginal call, of course he will pick the player he knows better (unless his insider knowledge brings him to a negative conclusion). It’s hard to even call it bias when, in reality, it is a belief developed from years of working with a player.

    I firmly believe that Kidney had the best interests of Ireland team when he made his selections. Can you blame him for standing by ROG to an extent when you consider that ROG was winning him matches for nearly 15 years. The same goes for DOC. For me, Kidney’s issues were elsewhere.

    • Agree with all of this, thanks Sound Steve.

    • Likes the sound of his own voice Steve

       /  April 22, 2013

      Cheers Sound Steve. Three lengthy paragraphs to reach the very obvious conclusion that a coach will be favourably predisposed to players he knows inside out.

  15. Elsmido

     /  April 22, 2013

    When I read the headline I thought you might come up with a revelation that carried some weight but to bring provincial bias in as a stumbling block to Schmidt’s appointment is pointless. This bias is sheer bunkum. Some geniuses on various blogs seem to revel in conspirisy theories about a cabal and an axis(of evil ,no doubt) but aside from a healthy rivalry, the idea of a coach, especially a foreign one, having a preference for players from certain teams is just plain silly.

    • I think you misunderstand us a little. It shouldn’t be a stumbling block to his appointment, and won’t be. It’s just a factor that has to be borne in mind. A lot of people have a preference for a coach coming in with no provincial baggage or preconceptions, and that’s an understandable argument. Unifying the fans behind Team Ireland has become an important part of the IRFU’s remit in getting bums on seats. The atmosphere around the Six Nations has been dire for three years now.

  16. Connachtexile

     /  April 22, 2013

    As a Connacht fan I would love Schmidt to get the job. I also can’t see there being a provincial divide in the camp. There was only one before because Kidney made one, Everytime he had to choose between two players the Munster one always got the nod. That couldn’t have helped morale in camp. As for Connacht and Schmidt we have being playing an off-loading game the last while under Elwood and I think that would fit well under Schmidt’s gameplan as have Ulster under Anscombe. With three of the provinces playing a style similar to what he wants and Penney slowly changing Munster to it, we could be seeing the start of something special. touch wood.

    • pete (buachaill on eirne)

       /  April 24, 2013

      Great comment Connacht exile.

      I think the Munster lads have a way to go yet in terms of upping their skills (a lot of them not all) but yes Penny is working on it with them and he is the man to get it done

  17. I’d like to see someone like McLaughlin get back involved with Ireland. Quinlan said he was the best skills coach he ever had, and think of how our backs used to play under Eddie… They may have been the same guys week in week out, but their skills were top notch. He’s a big part of the Ulster Academy, but I’m sure he could help out with Ireland also. And as much as it pains me, I think Humph will be the DoR for Ireland… He’s proven he can do it at Ulster and he’s the right man for the job, now that O’Shea seems to be out of the picture…

    And I’d expect there to be a degree of communication between the coaches of the provinces and the Ireland coach anyway… Hopefully this can be extended with Schmidt, Lam, Penney, Anscombe and whoever replaces JS (Ruddock, Deans or Gibbes)

    • Amiga500

       /  April 22, 2013

      A question I increasingly find myself asking is; does there need to be a DoR at national level?

      What would their role be? Would they complement or compete with the DoR’s at provincial level? Is their role something the IRFU board should be doing as a matter of course?

      • Seiko

         /  April 22, 2013

        The Head Coach has to be answerable to someone and who would ensure the best interests of Ireland are top of the list. The provincial DOR need to report to someone as well. The role is overseen by the IRFU Board at the moment (which is what everyone is complaining about).

    • Michael

       /  April 22, 2013

      Jebus no.

      Look at the skill levels of the players that McLaughlin had at Ulster, and notice that none of them seemed to improve in any identifiable way. He has some good points, but skills coaching cant be considered one of them.

      Paddy Wallace (more knockons than any other living rugby player)
      Trimble (great athelete, but skills…?)
      Niall O’Connor (say no more)
      Luke Marshall (caught a dose of whatever Paddy Wallace has)
      Craig Gilroy (hardly a catching and kicking masterclass)

      • I can’t quote the entire article but Quinlan himself reckons that under McLaughlin his breakdown skills alone improved. Look at someone like Henry, who under McLaughlin went from a journeyman 6/8 to being one of the top 7’s in Europe over the past 2 years. That’s McLaughlin’s work. Look at the young guys like Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy who all have cracking hands for young players. That’s McLaughlin.

        You can’t make every player a world beater (NO’C) but he improved Ulster to no end. And if you don’t think he is good enough for Ireland (which he was before under O’Sullivan) then I’m quite happy to have him working with the Ulster Academy helping us churn out even more talented youngsters…

        • Michael

           /  April 23, 2013

          I’m not denying he has merits as a coach, but skills just aint one of them. Certainly if you compare him to Schmidt. Whatever skills those youngsters have (and i’d disagree that Gilroy/Marshall have anything approaching cracking hands), were developed in the academy and not progressed at all under McLaughlins time in the 1st team. One of the most frustrating things avout watching Ulster under his time was the knock on’s, especially under pressure.

  18. Seiko

     /  April 22, 2013

    As a Munster fan, I have no issue with where a coach comes from. I think most successful coaches will always go for the player that they think will get them a result. I also don’t think there is any need to have a Munster rep on the coaching staff. That is just childish carry on. From what I can see, the players actually do get on well together from the different provinces – they may hang around a bit more with their own provincial mates, but that is to be expected because they know them better and they are in a different environment.

    Matt Williams had an interesting point to make about Joe in the Irish Times today – he has no experience of failure as a head coach, so we have no idea how he will cope when the going gets difficult.

    And as they say, you learn more from your failures than your successes.

  19. Not Michael Bent

     /  April 22, 2013

    Not intending to dig up old bitterness (but going on to do so anyway), part of the dislike/distrust of Deccie from the Leinster POV has to go back to his season (or at least few months of season) as coach of Leinster. Following on after three weeks in Wales (Newport maybe), he jumped ship on them to come to Leinster when that became an option, and then jumped ship again, back to Munster again as soon as that job became available.

    In no way am I implying that he intentionally came along to hurt Leinster (getting rid of Jennings and Leo), but there must have been some hurt individuals who realised that he never really wanted to be there, that the only job he really wanted was Munster.

    That was the baggage that Kidney brought to the job – that he was pure Munster.

    Schmidt doesn’t have any of that sort of history, and will surely, on the back of coaching intro-provincially for the last couple of years, know infinitely more about the various second level players (B&I Cup etc) than anyone from outside would be able to bring.

    On another note, I don’t think they should be the likes of an Anthony Foley including in the coaching ticket just to keep the Munstermen happy. I think they likes of an Anthony Foley should be on the coaching ticket as one of the young, up-coming Irish coaches on the scene.

    • Seiko

       /  April 22, 2013

      Did Kidney get rid of either Leo or Jennings? Kidney gave Leo his first 7 Heineken Cup caps, so I doubt if Kidney was planning on getting rid of him – more like Leo wanted to move to a very successful club, particuarly with his good friend Bob Casey doing well in England. Jennings was competing with Keith Gleeson, so its hardly surprising he might have been a bit dissatisfied and decided to move on – but it really getting boring that Kidney is blamed for everything bad that happened in Leinster.

      • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

         /  April 22, 2013

        Kidney let those lads go and then signed with Munster before he replaced them. As a result his focus shifted to his Munster squad for the next season, somewhat understandably. This caught the Leinster suits short but it is clear and obvious that Kidney did have a significant role in the whole thing.

        • Seiko

           /  April 22, 2013

          According to this article here, Cullen says that he was contacted by Leicester around the 15th May which was about 6 weeks after Leinster lost to Leicester in April and well after it was known that Kidney was going back to Munster. http://www.rfu.com/news/2005/may/news%20articles/tigerssignleocullenfromleinster

          Whatever about Jennings going (everyone saw Keith Gleeson as the better player), Leo left to better himself and I don’t see how Kidney can be blamed that Leicester was a very attractive club to get an offer from. It was also the making of him, Jennings and their experience in Leicester really benefited Leinster in the long run.

          Now, there was something wrong with the Leinster suits if they needed Kidney to point out that by the middle of May Leo hadn’t signed a new Leinster contract for the following season.

          • Not Michael Bent

             /  April 23, 2013

            I really should have left out the reference to Leo and Jennings – the key point was not that they left while he was in charge, or that he destroyed Leinster (or anything ridiculous like that).

            It was that he left Leinster as soon as the chance presented itself, having done the same with Newport. It’s the trust issue – he basically admitted, in leaving so quickly, that he never wanted to be there all along and was just waiting for the chance to go back to Munster.

          • I don’t want to get too mired into this topic, but it’s pretty well understood that the Leinster dressing room was disaffected by the end of Kidney’s short regime and the players felt the club was being left in the lurch a bit. The points made above are reasonable I think; there was a sense that not only was Kidney Munster through-and-through but that he had a pretty bad history with Leinster and a number of their players.

            To be fair he seemed able to put this behind him in his first year as head coach and they all seemed able to get on with the job. It seems that his and O’Driscoll’s relationship broke down over the last 18 months. Whether previous bad blood had a hand in this is hard to say for sure.

  20. Michael

     /  April 22, 2013

    Perversely, if he keeps an all Leinster coaching ticket, doesn’t that mean that provincial bias isn’t an issue? Keeping Foley on purely cos he is Munster surely means that its on his mind.

    Its the i cant be racist, i have a black friend argument…

  21. SUFTUM

     /  April 22, 2013

    As an ulster fan, I cannot say how excited I am by this appointment. This is just my feeling but if we do get Schmidt I think we’ll win the six nations next year. Obviously this has no basis but with so many of our players clearly not enjoying themselves before, anyone coming in would be able to improve the mood initially, and I think Schmidt is a brilliant coach, and can give Ireland an attacking gameplan which will suit us, and improve individuals no end!

  22. Speaking as a Munster fan, he is the only sensible choice. Speaking about the Munster-Leinster divide, I think you’ll find Munster fans will be a lot less “bitter” about Schmidt than Leinster fans were/are about a coach who jilted them, and went on to win Heinekens with Munster. Some of the Leinsterfans commentary on Kidney (and Munster rugby, in general, especially in decline) has been insanely biased, IMVHO. (Hasten to add that I’m not accusing this blog of this, but maybe some of the posters…i won’t name names 😉 )

  23. Keith

     /  April 23, 2013

    A friend of mine was over from Australia recently and assures me that McKensie is the real deal. Would it be that selfish of the IRFU and Leinster to keep Schmidt in Leinster and give themselves a full year to find a replacement, rather than rushing around having to pick up from a short list of out of work coaches. Schmidt may be a better coach, but having two excellent coaches involved in the Irish set up may not be so bad.

  24. Nice article but it would be a DISASTER if we were to continue to think in provincial terms, worse still to think of two provinces. The classiest team in Ireland this past year were Ulster and the guttsiest Connaught. And what about the “fifth province” and the stable of foreign-based Irish players if great guys like Jonny Sexton are to spread their wings, as they should.

    The greatest failing of the Kidney era was that we lost all sense of an Irish rugby team playing Irish rugby. We have no idea what that is or might be any more, and that coming at the end of the so-called “golden generation” era. Schmidt got Leinster playing Leinster-rugby by instilling a “pure rugby” mentality. Can he do it to Ireland? It is by no means certain. But I would sure give him a shot.

  25. Chris

     /  April 25, 2013

    I think DK’s perceived Munster bias was probably more because he taught in Munster schools, he grew up in Munster and he’d had a pretty disastrous stint with Leinster.

    I also think DK in general was quite a conservative coach. I remember this blog doing an excellent piece of DK’s bias to Ronan O Gara over Jeremy Staunton – which showed that DK was just comfortable with what he knew.

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