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'It's easy to throw Joe under the bus, everybody has to take responsibility'

Ireland players felt constricted by tension and their coach’s control in 2019, but player-led teams is by no means a new concept.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

BEFORE EUROPE AGAIN takes over as our sole focus for the December back-to-back weekends, this week fresh insight was delivered from key men in the IRFU to bring us raking back over the World Cup coals.

Former head coach Joe Schmidt must have felt severe stinging from criticism that came from IRFU performance director David Nucifora and also former captain Rory Best.

The retired hooker expressed a view from the player’s perspective that there was too much tension and detail involved in preparation. He lamented that, having enjoyed a successful 2018 with strong player-led elements, the group allowed complacency to set in early this year and subsequently ceded crucial pre-match time-frames to the control of the coaching team.

“Rory did take some blame on himself, saying ‘we should have stood up,’” said Bernard Jackman on today’s The42 Rugby Weekly podcast.

The former Grenoble and Dragons coach felt that even the long arm of Schmidt should not be left shouldering the entirety of the blame.

It’s easy to throw Joe under the bus. I think everybody has to take responsibility for it.

“Part of that is your leadership group: if you’ve developed a leadership group in 2016-17-18 they should be your sounding board and they should be able to question.

“Also, he had a support staff of a lot of other coaches as well – there’s a responsibility on everyone to say, ‘whoa stop! This is too much.’

“It’s an interesting insight and, for sure, it gives you some insight into how the players felt and there were a lot of pressure and a lot of last-minute extras that potentially undermined them.

“But a modern high-performance environment is player-driven, shared responsibility… it’s not even just modern. I did something with Clive Woodward a couple of weeks ago. He was talking about the 2003 World Cup final. It went to extra-time and he came down from the coaches’ box onto the pitch to the huddle to give England instructions. And Martin Johnson basically said ‘stop’, put his hand up and said ‘go back, we’re going to run this’.

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“In some ways you could say that was a slight on his ability to give a key message. But all the work he had done over the past five, six or seven years to give them ownership of it had come to a point, with 20 minutes of extra-time to go in a World Cup final, they were willing to take responsibility.

“So, it’s not a modern (phenomenon), it’s more talked about now, but it’s been around for a long time.

“It’s great to hear different people’s point of view on it, because (until now ) it’s been ‘move on’ and no real talk about it.”

david-nucifora-richie-murphy-andy-farrell-and-greg-feek Nucifora with coaches Richie Murphy, Andy Farrell and Greg Feek on the training ground in Japan. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Nucifora’s move to address the media after completion of the IRFU’s review of Ireland’s World Cup display brought Japan back into the spotlight this week. However, if you are sick to the back teeth of World Cup autopsies then the second half of today’s podcast is for you. Because there is another big Heineken Champions Cup weekend ahead for the provinces with four English opponents providing the opposition for intriguing December back-to-backs.

Jackman and Murray Kinsella are predicting at least three Irish wins, the fourth depends a great deal on what tomorrow’s team news offers up.

Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella join Sean Farrell to discuss the most revealing post-World Cup insights yet and preview the December back-to-backs..

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Sean Farrell

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