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'I'm gutted for him' - Paulie and BOD lament Schmidt's cruel swansong

‘Look at what he’s done for Ireland over the past six or seven years,’ says Brian O’Driscoll.

Joe Schmidt walks down through the crowd after the game.
Joe Schmidt walks down through the crowd after the game.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JOE SCHMIDT’S TIME in charge of Ireland will not be defined by the hugely disappointing display against the All Blacks in Tokyo this morning, according to two of the game’s greats.

Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll were present to see the world champions rout the Irish in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Afterwards, O’Connell said he suspected Schmidt — who now departs from the job after the tournament exit — would have quit four years ago had Ireland reached the semi-finals. 

“He decided to stay on and get the job done,” the former Ireland and Munster skipper said on ITV. “Now, amazing things have happened in the time in between.

“We’ve beaten the All Blacks for the first time ever and the second time ever, won a Grand Slam, won a Test series in Australia. A lot of that stuff hasn’t happened in our history so he’s created an amazing legacy but the World Cup semi final and creating a bit of history for Ireland was the big thing that he wanted to do and I’m gutted for him.

“I’m gutted for him.” 

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Brian O’Driscoll, meanwhile, urged rugby fans to remember what Schmidt has done for Irish rugby over the course of his tenure. 

“His legacy shouldn’t be dependent on what’s happened out here tonight,” O’Driscoll said. “It will be in many people’s eyes because the reason he did stay was because he felt it was in us. And that will sit with him for a long, long while. 

“We don’t know what he’s going to do. He’s talked about taking a period of time off, but I hope he gets back into it in some capacity. 

“He could turn one or two teams in this competition around in a four-year cycle and make them very competitive. Look at what he’s done for Ireland over the past six or seven years; our best period ever and people shouldn’t forget that.” 

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