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10 things we learned from Keith Wood's brilliant sit-down with Joe Schmidt

It was like Frost/Nixon, but more important.

ON A NIGHT when the rugby was a stop-start affair full of frustration and ultimately an England win, the best thing about the Rugby World Cup’s opening night was the extended interview former Ireland captain Keith Wood conducted with head coach Joe Schmidt.

After an abrupt green screen end, Wood said he attempted to chat about non rugby topics with Schmidt and that made for an excellent dig through what makes the back-to-back Six Nations champ who he is.

1. Joe is a midlands man at heart, he loves giving out about the state of the roads

Well, he did when he first arrived in Mullingar. Now he gives out about the width of the roads in his native New Zealand.

The improved infrastructure and the ease of crossing in to Northern Ireland were the two big changes he noticed when he came back to Ireland as Leinster coach.

2. He Loves reading

Loves it.

Leo Cullen and Joe Schmidt Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

3. While Leinster coach, he wrote a review of George Harrison’s biography

He found time to read when travelling to away fixtures, when as a coach he could step back and let the team take over.

Obit Gerald Ford Source: AP/Press Association Images

4. Schmidt “never wanted to be a rugby coach,” fancied basketball instead

LeBron would have never needed to leave Cleveland if Schmidt had got hold of them at the right time.

Film-LeBron James Source: AP/Press Association Images

5. He’s one of eight children

That explains the competitiveness, and his older brother being a professor of Pacific History goes some way to explaining his flawless pronunciation of everything.


Just listen to the way he says ‘Francois’. Beautiful.

6. He swears he concedes to his assistant coaches “on a regular basis”

We weren’t buying this until he started mentioning Greg Feek’s scrum expertise and Simon Easterby’s line-out combinations. But we still reckon he wins many more debates than he loses.

Simon Easterby, Joe Schmidt and Les Kiss Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

7. Formative years were in a small town in ‘the far North*’

He only moved to the mid-sized town of Woodville, a culture shock of a place with a population in the 1,500 range and straddling Manawatu (who were the extent of his playing ambitions), Hawke’s Bay and  Wairarapa.

(*We think he said ‘Tauraroa” but we’ll have to ask him to confirm when he’s not busy winning a World Cup)

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8. He calls himself ‘average’ as a player

The one-time winger says “I could run a bit and that served me well.”

Here he is scoring for Manawatu against France in ’89.


 9. Schmidt reckons he’s right footed, but could kick further with his left 

Has anyone else ever felt this way? Seems either rare or Schmidt was left footed all along.

His son Tim (scrum-half with Terenure College last year) favours the left boot too.

Tim Schmidt of Terenure clears the ball 4/2/2014 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

10. ‘To be competitive, everyone’s got to be a little obsessive’

That’s Schmidt admitting that, yes, he is a tad obsessive.

Joe Schmidt Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Look back at the big interview on the TV3 Player here.

Analysis: How good was Ireland coach Joe Schmidt in his playing days?

‘Tries will win the World Cup,’ but Ireland target defensive security

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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