Former Ireland International Says Players Were “Belittled & Scared” Under Joe Schmidt

“Guys were just petrified to offload.”

Joe Schmidt’s man-management and coaching style have come under fire by former Ireland international, Dan Tuohy.

Tuohy claims Schmidt was a “scary character” and he didn’t like the fact that the New Zealander would belittle him or make him feel scared – and a lot of other players felt the same.

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Schmidt enjoyed unprecedented success when he was Ireland head coach, guiding them to a first-ever win over New Zealand, as well as a Six Nations Grand Slam back in 2018.

But that success came on the back of an “edgy environment” on the training pitch.

“He [Schmidt] is a pretty scary character – I didn’t react well to being belittled or feeling scared. It wasn’t a good thing for me. I didn’t enjoy that. I know a lot of other players didn’t as well,” Tuohy told The Telf Rugby Podcast.

“Some people thrive on that. But he wasn’t a warm character. He wasn’t … making an edgy environment on the training pitch, but afterwards he’d be quite personable, he’d be interested in you.”

Tuohy noted that he had some admiration for Schmidt’s incredible attention to detail, something he is famous for but feels this did “stifle some creativity” within the set-up.

“One thing I will say is that he prepared his teams incredibly well. I’m sat here, and I haven’t achieved five percent of what Joe has achieved. He prepared his teams to the Nth degree incredibly well, but I do believe he did stifle some creativity,” Tuohy continued.

He felt Schmidt didn’t encourage trust within the squad’s playing style.

“I remember at one meeting he said ‘You do not offload. You haven’t got the skills to offload. And this is not me. This is the whole squad. You can’t offload, unless it’s 100 percent, don’t bother doing it. Just get the ball back, and we’ll keep the ball.

“So guys were just petrified to offload the ball. It just stifled creativity.”

Tuohy, who played 11 tests for Ireland, felt the joy disappeared for him under Schmidt’s ways.

“It’s such a weird thing for me, as I lived and died by getting that email for Ireland selection, but when I got it, and I’d almost go ‘I’ve got to go down again.’ I’d know for eight weeks he was going to torture me about something,.”

“Before long he’d be on my back, and I’d just be beaten down. I think he wanted to make me stronger, but in actual fact, I needed a bit of space. I didn’t work well with that, but everyone’s different.”