Joe Schmidt Is Still Pretty Pissed Off Over These Warren Gatland Comments

Frustrating.

Warren Gatland is no stranger to having his game plan attacked by the media, and in some cases, opposition coaches. ‘Warrenball’ is a term that boils his blood. We saw that on last summer’s Lions tour.

The Kiwi coach was visibly bristled at one of his press conferences when it was put to him there’s a perception in some quarters his teams can only play one way – physically and direct.

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“When did that way start? You don’t know the answer to that do you?” Gatland said.

“I kind of look at it and go ‘was that when we were successful at Wasps or was it when I was coaching Waikato and won the Air New Zealand Cup?

“When did a certain style change? If you can tell (me) the time frame then I can potentially give you an answer.

“Look, a few years ago Brian Smith coined a phrase Warrenball. I don’t know if that was because he was jealous of how much success we had.

That being said, perhaps Gatland can understand where Joe Schmidt was coming from yesterday when his game plan was questioned. Ireland have been accused of being unable to get the ball wide. And being over-reliant on kicks, and going through the motions with countless phases.

But who started it all? Why Warren Gatland of course. Right after Wales defeated Ireland in the 2015 Six Nations. In Dublin nonetheless.

“I don’t think Ireland play a lot of rugby,” Gatland said 

“I thought they were really narrow at times and a lot of the players are quite narrow. When they play that game effectively, when they use their one-off runners effectively and get some success from cross-kicks, that’s what they’re good at doing.

“We didn’t feel like we were troubled at all in the wide channels.”

Schmidt was asked once again asked about his game plan following his team announcement yesterday. Do Ireland need to change their approach in attack? He didn’t take too kindly to those words.

“What can you change? It’s a game of rugby,” Schmidt said.

“Sometimes we kick, sometimes we run wide, sometimes we go through the middle.

“I think if anyone tried to analyse what we do, there is a lot of variety in what we do. I think that the times we have not quite managed to get the results against Wales we have probably had as much of the game as they had and haven’t been able to put the game away.”

Additional reporting from Sean Farrell of The42, saw Schmidt point out it was Gatland who initially created the story. Although he didn’t directly mention his Kiwi counterpart.

“I am not even saying there is all this opportunity,” Schmidt added.

“I’m just saying sometimes it is frustrating because one opposition coach has tried to create that story and people have picked it up without doing their own analysis.

“I think there is a degree of frustration from our players. I am not sure why he would get more credence than Daniel Hourcade (Argentina boss) who was really impressed or by Allister Coetzee (Former Springboks boss) who was really impressed.”