Scotland should beware 'rugby anorak' Schmidt, says O'Driscoll

‘One word you associate with Joe Schmidt is detail. I have never known any coach to scrutinise a game like him.’

BOD: 'It is his passion as well as his profession.'
BOD: 'It is his passion as well as his profession.'
Image: Brendan Moran

JOE SCHMIDT IS a “rugby anorak” but it’s his mastery of detail that can see Ireland edge to within a win of their third Six Nations Grand Slam, Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll told AFP.

Schmidt, whose side on Saturday host a Scotland side boosted by a memorable win over champions England but with a woeful away record in the Six Nations, is not the one-dimensional coach often portrayed by some people, said O’Driscoll.

O’Driscoll knows Schmidt well as he played for the 52-year-old New Zealander at Leinster — winning back-to-back European Cups — and in the last year of his Test career which climaxed with victory over France in Paris to win the 2014 Six Nations title.

“Maybe we won back-to-back European Cups for him,” chuckled O’Driscoll when he spoke to AFP at the Laureus Awards in Monaco.

“One word you associate with Joe Schmidt is detail. Like I have never known any coach to scrutinise a game like him.

“He is an absolute rugby anorak, it is his passion as well as his profession. He is a bit of an insomniac too as he watches so much of it.

“Great comfort of that is he already has a plan for England (their final match on Saturday week at Twickenham). Yes, he has one for Scotland but for England he will have a fair idea of which way he goes and you will see him tweak two or three things.”

O’Driscoll, Ireland’s most capped player with 133 and who captained them to the 2009 Grand Slam, illustrates Schmidt’s versatility in sizing up opponents with a move against Wales in the 37-27 victory.

Although, it didn’t come off it had been specifically planned on account of something the New Zealander had seen as a potential blindspot for the Welsh.

“That was solely done for Wales because he (Schmidt) identified something,” said O’Driscoll, who is the all-time record try scorer with 26 in the Five/Six Nations.

“You get that detail from him as different moves are identified for different teams.

“It’s not a blanket policy that Joe deploys for taking on his opponents.”


Thusfar in his five year reign it has worked wonders — a thumping defeat by Argentina in the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals being a rare reverse — with the highlights two Six Nations titles and an historic win over world champions New Zealand.

Schmidt combined coaching with being a school master when he started out in New Zealand.

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“He isn’t too schoolmasterly but you want to know what you are talking about, don’t go off half-cocked,” said O’Driscoll.

“He will sit you down too if needs be, he won’t take any bullshit.”

O’Driscoll added: “You are in school as a kid and the teacher asks what is the capital of France.

“A hand goes up and the pupil says Bordeaux..the teacher says ‘very very good effort but no’.

“The next pupil says Nice, ‘no’ replies teacher but great effort, another says Paris and teacher replies ‘well done’.

“With Schmidt, however, there is no bullshit so there will be no ‘good effort’ to those who answered Bordeaux and Nice.

“You want to be on the money the whole time so if you want to challenge something he says you better get it right, or have a very viable option to what he is thinking.”

© – AFP 2018

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