This Saturday evening at the Stade de France, it’s not just Ireland and New Zealand, it’s Schmidt-Echo! Behind the clash between two of the game’s most charismatic teams since the start of the 2023 World Cup, there is a man hiding: Joe Schmidt, the All Blacks’ assistant coach and former Irish coach for six years.
From 2013 to 2019, he was the one who helped shape the Clover XV today, with the added bonus of winning Coach of the Year in 2018. “He left a huge mark on Irish rugby,” recalls Jonathan Sexton, Voice As the best player in the world in the same year. Together, they reached great heights in 2018 with a grand slam win in the Six Nations and a first victory in Irish history against the All Blacks in 2016.
“Joe knows a lot about us.”
“Joe knows us well, we know him well, but he’s not the guy who makes tackles or touches on the pitch,” warns the Irish midfielder. It’s clear, going into the quarter-finals, that Joe Schmidt is one of the keys to the match. “Joe knows a lot about us and the individuals in our group. But we also have an idea of what he might try to do. “It’s well balanced and that’s an interesting aspect of the game itself,” sums up Simon Easterby, Irish defense coach.
Having gone through Claremont as Verne Cotter’s assistant from 2007 to 2010, the New Plymouth native has impressed wherever he goes. “Rugby-wise, he is very meticulous and very strict. He always pays attention to the details so that every pass and every run is executed perfectly in the right rhythm. “He obviously knows this Irish team by heart, and he will be a A great asset to the All Blacks.”
An opinion shared by his colleague at the time, Alexandre Audibert. “He will have plenty of resources to guide his tactical choices. Even if rugby has evolved rapidly, he has brought the same touch to all his teams since Clermont. “The Irish philosophy is the same as it is in our time,” says the former third-row.
However, the Irish were very confident in the press conference, as experienced winger Keith Earls, who played under him for XV du Trèfle, said: “I don’t think Joe knows anything about this team. Maybe he knows things about individuals, but we’ve all changed our habits in This coaching staff has remained, and we’re really not using any of the habits that Joe taught us.”
Soon to be #1 black?
Even by the All Blacks, we underestimated his importance. “We didn’t mention his knowledge of Ireland at all,” he tried to trick Jason Ryan, the forwards coach. Coach Ian Foster is concerned about the New Zealanders’ over-focus on their evening rival. “It’s not about analyzing them so closely that we lose track and weaken ourselves a little bit. Joe knows the Irish well, that’s clear, but first we’re looking to improve our game.
Facing four defeats in two months in 2022, including a home series loss to … Ireland, Ian Foster has been weakened over New Zealand’s Ra’s Al Ghul, with some even considering Schmidt to be given the No. 1 spot outright. The former Leinster coach, a two-time European Cup winner with the Irish province, has finally agreed to become a “minimal” assistant. “He has a deep connection to his nation. It is clear that he wants to coach the All Blacks in the back of his mind. He should be very happy there, even if he has to keep in mind that he is No. 1,” believes Julian Malzio.
The New Zealand FA have already selected Scott Robertson to replace Ian Foster from 2024 until 2027. “You have to be quite a politician to hold such an important position in New Zealand. I don’t see it that way, but regardless, he is on his way to taking over this position,” explains Alexandre Audibert. Before he gets the keys to the Blacks’ home, the person whom his two former players describe as a “quiet force” must first find out, on Saturday evening, from the Schmidt Echo.
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