World Cup Winning Coach Reveals What Makes Joe Schmidt So Special


“I think he’s special. He’s a very special coach.”

Those are the words of legendary All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry when asked about Ireland boss Joe Schmidt. When someone of Henry’s caliber says that about a coach, you had better listen. The World Cup winning coach spent some time with Leinster this season, getting to know Schmidt rather well and has been following his career for some time.

“I spent some time at Leinster in August and Joe and I had crossed swords a few times, we know each other reasonably well,” Henry tells ESPN.

“The Irish boys just think he’s fabulous. They just think so highly of him.

“He’s into detail, he’s very good at coaching the detail and the players have a huge amount of respect for him and play for him. I think he’s very special. He’s a very special coach.

“There are a number of those, but he’s certainly done exceptionally well with Ireland.”


In 2013 Ireland built a lead against the All Blacks which they failed to protect; in 2016 they again stormed ahead against New Zealand but instead of defending it, they attacked. Henry sees this as a massive tool in Schmidt’s arsenal- his ability to learn from his mistakes and build on them.

“He [Schmidt] learns from those situations,” Henry says.

“I remember that scrum in the left hand corner when the No.12, [Robbie] Henshaw scored off Jamie Heaslip’s pass. Everybody was thinking they’d go for the eight-man shove and aim to draw the penalty but they played, scored and finished up getting seven rather than three.

“He learned from that game in Dublin. It’s a sign of somebody who is constantly on the job, always trying to get better and learning from each situation. It’s impressive.

Glowing praise from one of rugby’s greatest coaches.

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