Joe Schmidt on Devin Toner and the World Cup, no January funds for José
The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
The Bay Oval at Mount Maunganui, where New Zealand are hosting England in the first match of a two-Test series. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty
Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt releases his book - Ordinary Joe - today, which he has written exclusively by himself. And before you ask for it for Christmas, Gerry Thornley has done the reading for you and revealed some of the most eye-catching stories from Schmidt’s diary this morning. Ordinary Joe is split into four sections - the first on growing up in New Zealand, the second on his coaching career with Clermont Auvergne and Leinster, with the second half dedicated to the 2018 Grand Slam and the 2019 Rugby World Cup. In his diary of the World Cup, he gives his reasoning for omitting Devin Toner from his squad, with the secondrow facing a potential six-week suspension for an incident which took place during the defeat to Wales in the final round of the Six Nations. And he also sheds light on where he feels Ireland went wrong in Japan: “Our performances did not have the consistency of 2018; our levels of accuracy and cohesion fluctuated from game to game, and during games. On reflection, I don’t believe that you can afford to taper and peak: you have to be building all the time, and that is done training by training, and performance by performance.”
Schmidt also reveals he tried to get Ireland’s World Cup win over Samoa called off before full-time due to the state of the pitch - a request which was refused by Australian referee Nic Berry. He writes: “We discussed the state of the pitch in the coaches’ box and sent a message to (Ireland team manager) Paul Dean to request that the match be called off early. Deano approached the match manager and a message was conveyed onto the referee, via the fourth official. The referee chose to continue, but chatting to the Samoans and the players later, we thought it was incredible that two teams at rugby’s premier tournament had to play on a pitch as badly cobbled together as that one was.” And he also suggests former Ireland captain Rory Best was close to quitting the game ahead of the 2018 Six Nations, following the fallout from his decision to attend the trial of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding in Belfast.