Joe Schmidt vs Steve Hansen: how the coaches stack up
The Ireland and All Blacks head coaches both boast hugely successful careers
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt shakes hands with New Zealand coach Steve Hansen at the Aviva in 2016. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Home town: Woodville (aka The Junction)
Claim to fame as player: Busy winger for Manawatu who faced the touring French in 1989 when “Josef Schmidt” out sprinted the great Jean-Baptiste Lafond to score a try.
Coaching record: Mullingar RFC, Wilson’s Hospital and New Zealand Schools coach before winning the Ranfurly Shield with Bay of Plenty and Bouclier de Brennus (Top 14 title) with ASM Clermont Auvergne as assistant coach to Vern Cotter, sandwiched between a sticky stint at the Auckland Blues. Won three European titles with Leinster and is up to three Six Nations as Ireland boss.
High-water mark: Guiding Wilson’s Hospital to the Leinster schools section A cup, with victory over St Conleth’s, in 1991 and the Chicago scalping of the All Blacks in 2016 were special but it has to be last season’s Grand Slam via Paris and Twickenham.
Low-water mark: The week leading into October 18th, 2015, and the 43-20 defeat to Argentina in the World Cup quarter-final after Paul O’Connell, Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and Jared Payne were cruelly removed from his team. Unsure what he’d do differently, certainly wouldn’t pick Simon Zebo, maybe start Luke Fitzgerald, but lingering over O’Connell’s demise still seems unwise and only last week he repeated that Sexton pulled out 24 hours before kick-off.
Likely to say: “The World Cup cycle is a completely nebulous term for us. We speak about circadian rhythm of the day to day.”
The future is... All Black, eventually. Seems written in the stars.
Joe Schmidt's try
Home town: Mosgiel, Otago.
Claim to fame as player: Centre for Canterbury B. Always bound for the coaching life.
Coaching record: Impressive. After building his reputation with the Crusaders, he followed Graham Henry to Wales, learning valuable lessons during an 11-game losing streak leading into the 2003 World Cup (honourable defeats to England and New Zealand followed). When Henry became All Blacks supremo in 2004 the partnership was renewed and so began a 14-year run on the national coaching ticket, becoming the chief in 2012.
High-water mark: The elan displayed en route to New Zealand retaining the World Cup in 2015. Bumps in the road were expertly avoided as the experiences of 2007 and 2011 clearly helped him guide the All Blacks to victory over Australia.
Low-water mark: Has to be October 6th, 2007, the World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff when the French came from nowhere to beat what many were calling the greatest rugby squad ever assembled. Dan Carter and Nick Evans limped off. Thierry Dusautoir still haunts the Kiwi pysche.
Likely to say: “You get all your options off the opposition. You might have to go away and think about that.”
The future is... Ireland coach? He namechecks Alex Ferguson every now and again so maybe he’ll stay in current roll a little longer.