Hard Knocks

IRFU decline proposal for behind-the-scenes series on Schmidt's Ireland

The discussions never advanced beyond an informal stage.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES documentary-style shows on sports teams are a growing phenomenon, but any hopes that Joe Schmidt’s Ireland would star in one have been quashed for now.

The IRFU recently declined a proposal from a production company for Schmidt’s team to be at the centre of an in-depth series.

It’s understood that the discussions never moved beyond an informal stage, with the IRFU expressing its reservations about providing all-areas access to Schmidt’s camp.

Joe Schmidt with Jordan Larmour Dan Sheridan / INPHO Schmidt's Ireland are facing into a huge year. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland have previously been the focus of a one-off documentary based around their 2016 summer tour of South Africa, but the proposal in this case was around a more comprehensive and longer-running series.

Amazon is a big player in this market, having worked with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys, college football’s Michigan Wolverines and Premier League outfit Manchester City in their ‘All or Nothing’ series.

US television network HBO has also had great success with their ‘Hard Knocks’ series, which delve behind-the-scenes as NFL teams prepare for the season ahead. 

On the rugby front, New Zealand’s All Blacks were the subjects of a six-episode ‘All or Nothing’ series that was screened on Amazon Prime this year and included the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour.

While the All Blacks’ doc-style series was well received by some supporters, it’s understood that Steve Hansen and his coaching staff found the process of providing access to the crew to be challenging.

The proposal made to the IRFU regarding Schmidt’s Ireland was to shoot a new series in ‘All or Nothing’ style, although it’s understood that Amazon was not involved.

The IRFU often receives approaches regarding television shows and documentaries, so this latest proposal is not completely unusual, but it does point to the growing interest in sports-based reality series. It seems likely that this won’t be the last proposal of this kind.

For now, Schmidt and Ireland will keep their secrets close to their chests as they head into a busy year that includes four November Tests, a Grand Slam defence and the 2019 World Cup.

– First published 01.00, 20 September

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