There is interesting trend developing in Northern Hemisphere – New Zealand coaches are bloody everywhere. Joe Schmidt, Ireland’s head coach is definitely the most successful out of the bunch. The Kiwi has won 2 Heineken cups, 1 challenge cup and 1 pro 12 title in 3 years with Leinster and has spearheaded Ireland’s greatest era since taking the helm in 2013. With the Irish team he has won 3 six nations titles, 1 grand slam and guided Ireland to their first ever victory over New Zealand. I am going to stop boring you with statistics and get to the main topic of this piece, why Joe Schmidt has led Ireland to such unprecedented success in so little time.
I think every successful team or organization is built on a set of values everyone involved buys into – clarity, teamwork, integrity, humility, honesty and work-ethic. All of these values are crucial to developing the type of culture and friendship needed to achieve greatness. Teamwork is no doubt the most important, a collection of talented individuals without collaboration will ultimately fail. By developing a collective culture which emphasises teamwork and attention to detail, the Irish players trust each other and play with the required precision in crucial moments. Clarity is one word Joe Schmidt loves to use often, having a clear mind is a necessity when performing in a high pressure situation. think of Jonathan Sexton’s drop goal against France or Ireland’s incredible defence in the 3rd test against Australia in the summer. Clarity allows you to make the right decisions at the correct time, which ultimately wins test matches.
What also wins test matches is playing with accuracy and the Irish thrive on it. Joe Schmidt coaches his players into ground rigorously going over and over every little detail. His style of coaching definitely puts a strain on his team, but results on the field speak for themselves. Ireland excel at every single facet of the game, the team is sound in defence, clinical in attack and dominant in the scrum, all of this is down to the incredible work rate of the coaches and players. I should get probably onto those poor sods. Schmidt has been blessed with an impressive selection of talent to choose from, Ireland have the perfect balance of old heads like Johnny Sexton or Rob Kearney combined with fresh faces such as Jordan Larmour and Garry Ringrose. This balance allows the Irish to be pragmatic and dangerous keeping the opposition guessing. The control Conor Murray provides at scrum half is invaluable and his partnership with Sexton has to be one the greatest the sport has ever seen. Tadhg Furlong is a monster in the front row and Rory Best has proven himself to be a worthy captain. At 21, James Ryan has slotted into the second row like a smooth fitting glove and I am surprised Peter O’Mahony hasn’t broken apart considering the amount of work he’s goes through.
Putting together a team is like solving a very complicated puzzle, every piece has to fit into place just right and Schmidt has found the perfect balance. Ireland on the right trajectory to achieving something remarkable next year, considering what happened last season I won’t be writing them off.