Ordinary Joe: Ireland rugby coach looks back on an extraordinary decade

Book review: Joe Schmidt’s autobiography reveals glimpses of the vulnerable human behind the manicured image

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt during the warm-up before the Rugby World Cup quarter final match in October between New Zealand and Ireland, in Tokyo. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt during the warm-up before the Rugby World Cup quarter final match in October between New Zealand and Ireland, in Tokyo. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

It’s a surprise to learn that Joe Schmidt was sent off during his playing career once and that, astonishingly, it was for verbal abuse.

As a weedy 10-year-old scrum-half in New Zealand, though not himself guilty of the assault, he expressed approval when his annoying opposite number was on the wrong end of a kick. “Serves you right!” Schmidt said, whereupon he was ordered off for breaching the “spirit of the game”. Appeals for clemency were useless, despite the referee being his father.

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