Schmidt unimpressed by Pichot’s comments on Toner’s omission
‘I think he has a number of big opinions, but they’re not ones that are relevant for us’
Agustin Pichot: “If I was Devin Toner . . . I will be asking WR for answers. I feel sorry for him; nothing against who was properly selected for the RWC19 by the way. But feel that way.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Joe Schmidt has dismissed the opinions of the high-profile World Rugby vice -president Agustin Pichot as irrelevant after the former Pumas scrumhalf suggested Devin Toner had been unfairly treated when Jean Kleyn was picked ahead of him in Ireland’s World Cup squad.
Pichot has successfully campaigned to extend the three year residency ruling from three to five years, but that doesn’t come into effect until after this World Cup.
On foot of the Irish squad announcement on Monday, Pichot, never shy to express his opinion, tweeted: “If I was Devin Toner . . . I will be asking WR for answers. I feel sorry for him; nothing against for who was properly selected for the RWC19 by the way. But [I] feel that way.”
“Gus Pichot had a big opinion about who should be world number one as well,” said Schmidt after Pichot had said the world rankings system was flawed when Wales claimed the number one position following their win over England last Saturday week. As Pichot said nothing when the All Blacks returned to the summit after Ireland beat Wales last Saturday, presumably all is right with the world again.
“I think he has a number of big opinions, but they’re not ones that are relevant for us and, talking to Gats [Warren Gatland] last week, they weren’t relevant to him either,” added Schmidt.
“What is relevant is that under the laws of the game, as they were, we are entitled to pick guys who have qualified. Considering he [Pichot] is involved in World Rugby, he could have a look at what the rules were and not have so many things to say because for us it is tough enough to do our job and tough enough for me to have a conversation as I did with Dev,” added Schmidt, clearly feeling that Pichot went well beyond his remit.
“With Ireland the qualification involvement is, I don’t know, probably six or seven per cent. The rest are home grown guys who are not only home grown but who are domiciled here apart from two years when Johnny was used from Paris.”
“If there was any question about the number of Irish people involved then I would be surprised when you match up those numbers. I’m not sure I’m the most qualified to comment as I am a blow-in myself and I’ll be blowing out soon enough so Gus Pichot has changed the rules and those rules will apply beyond this World Cup and they will apply as long as people feel that is the right residency rule.
“I wouldn’t question how much CJ Stander has committed to his local environment, what Bundee has done for his local environment, that they are domiciled here in Ireland and have been for a number of years.
“They have contributed to their community and I’m not sure how long you have to contribute to a community and work hard in that community before you can be accepted by those people.
“I was put under a lot of pressure when Bundee played his first game. A lot of people wrote things but by the end of that first season he had played for Ireland he was named as Supporters’ Player of the Year.
“Now, I think that the majority – and maybe it is a silent majority – will fully get behind this squad and be fully supportive in the hope that we can do as well as we can in Japan. ”