Former Ireland Boss Joe Schmidt Responds To Rory Best’s Rugby World Cup Criticism

Tough.

Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was back in the headlines again this week as a result of some comments made by his former captain Rory Best to the media this week about Ireland’s disappointing 2019 and failure at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Best said Ireland’s meltdown in Japan was impacted by “too much detail” from the coaches creating “too much tension” in the camp leading up to games.

House of Rugby is back with a brand new URC show – hosted by RugbyLAD founder Jason Hennessy, Ireland international Megan Williams and Olympic sevens star, Greg O'Shea. Follow and subscribe to it HERE.

“I think we started to become – not dictated to – but we just let Joe do everything,” said Best, speaking at a Specsavers Audiologist event.

“The great thing about 2018 was we had our own voice and our own mind. There was that freedom at the end of the week to step into a space to lead. You can’t just turn up at the Aviva stadium at five o’clock ‘Right, it’s our turn to lead.’ You can get a bit lost.

“I think in 2019 that end of the week space started to be filled a bit much with coaches.”

Schmidt was in Limerick last night speaking at an event in the University of Limerick Concert Hall to promote his new book ‘Ordinary Joe’ and said “it’s tough” to hear things like that in the media but doesn’t think the stories were accurately presented.

“I got a text from my wife just saying are you ok?” Schmidt said

“I am ok. But I think I’m less ok when it affects my family. I kind of write about it in the book – a 10-year-old kid coming home from school crying because his dad is a shite coach! I waa trying to keep that from him!

“That’s tough. It’s all very well people saying you shouldn’t be sensitive to the media but I’ve always found the media are very sensitive to what you may say. And sometimes pick out bits of it that you probably think aren’t in the context that you’ve tried to describe them.

“I think it’s always a bit of a tightrope you walk and you’re a little bit exposed, especially as a head coach. It’s one of the reasons why I never really wanted to be a head coach. I never really wanted to be a rugby coach actually but that’s a long way back and another story.

“But yeah it’s not a great day when there’s a headline on the front page saying ‘Best blames Japan failure on Schmidt’ because it’s not even accurate. But it doesn’t have to be accurate to sell papers.”

Presenter Joe Molloy shot down Schmidt’s ‘out of context’ comments, noting that Best spoke in length. Schmidt says he has since received a text from Best, with the hooker admitting he might have “inadvertently” said things in the “wrong manner”

“I am a kind of details operator. Because I think if everyone knows their detail there’s a more seamless cohesion in the team,” Schmidt said.

“But I did get a text from Rory Best saying that unequivocally that I did step back and the players stepped in and took the space. And he feels that inadvertently he may have said things in the wrong manner. 

“I think on the morning of the New Zealand game, [actually], it wasn’t even the morning, the players had the morning off. We met at something like 3.30pm, it was reasonably late in the afternoon.

“And we went for a walk outside the hotel which we always do and we huddled up I think maybe for five or six minutes?

“I would have spent I reckon maybe 60 to 90 seconds talking myself, that was it. And then the players lined up to play a game… it’s a little hard to explain.

“I think it’s hard to say that it was super significant but if Bestie felt it was then it was because their mental preparation for the game is their own.

“And it’s one of the things I even mention in the book – it’s very very different how players prepare themselves for a game. One player may come out ready for the game and give you a chinky week on the way out and he’s relaxed as can be. Another one might be incredibly wound up as a drum but that’s how he needs to be to get out there and play his best.

“So you’re trying to deal with 23 different personalities.

“I think [Best] is only really talking about the New Zealand game because in those other weeks there was a lot [of detail and input from the coaches].

Joe Schmidt’s new book ‘Ordinary Joe’ is available now in all good bookstores.