Scots told to be­ware ‘rugby anorak’ Sch­midt

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT -

JOE Sch­midt is a “rugby anorak” but it’s his mas­tery of de­tail that can see Ire­land edge to within a win of only their third Six Na­tions Grand Slam, Ir­ish leg­end Brian O’Driscoll said.

Sch­midt, whose side to­day host a Scot­land side boosted by a mem­o­rable win over cham­pi­ons Eng­land but with a woe­ful away record in the Six Na­tions, is not the one-dimensional coach of­ten por­trayed by some peo­ple, O’Driscoll said.

O’Driscoll knows Sch­midt well as he played for the 52-year-old New Zealan­der at Le­in­ster -- win­ning backto-back Euro­pean Cups -- and in the last year of his test ca­reer, which cli­maxed with vic­tory over France in Paris to win the 2014 Six Na­tions ti­tle.

“Maybe we won back-to-back Euro­pean Cups for him,” O’Driscoll chuck­led when he spoke at the Lau­reus Awards in Monaco.

“One word you as­so­ciate with Joe Sch­midt is de­tail. Like I have never known any coach to scru­ti­nise a game like him.

“He is an ab­so­lute rugby anorak, it is his pas­sion as well as his pro­fes­sion. He is a bit of an in­som­niac too as he watches so much of it.

“Great com­fort of that is he al­ready has a plan for Eng­land [their fi­nal match next Sat­ur­day at Twick­en­ham]. Yes, he has one for Scot­land, but for Eng­land he will have a fair idea of which way he goes and you will see him tweak two or three things.”

O’Driscoll, Ire­land’s most capped player with 133, and who cap­tained them to the 2009 Grand Slam, il­lus­trated Sch­midt’s ver­sa­til­ity in siz­ing up op­po­nents with a move against Wales in the 37-27 vic­tory.

Al­though it didn’t come off, it had been specif­i­cally planned on ac- count of some­thing the New Zealan­der had seen as a po­ten­tial blind spot for the Welsh.

“That was solely done for Wales be­cause he [Sch­midt] iden­ti­fied some­thing,” O’Driscoll, who is the all-time record try scorer with 26 in the Five/Six Na­tions, said.

“You get that de­tail from him as dif­fer­ent moves are iden­ti­fied for dif­fer­ent teams.

“It’s not a blan­ket pol­icy that Joe de­ploys for tak­ing on his op­po­nents.”

Thus far in his five-year reign it has worked won­ders -- a thump­ing de­feat by Ar­gentina in the 2015 World Cup quar­ter­fi­nals be­ing a rare re­verse -- with the high­lights two Six Na­tions ti­tles and a his­toric win over world cham­pi­ons New Zealand.

Sch­midt com­bined coach­ing with be­ing a school­mas­ter when he started out in New Zealand. “He isn’t too school­mas­terly, but you want to know what you are talk­ing about, don’t go off half-cocked,” O’Driscoll said.

“He will sit you down too if needs be, he won’t take any bull­shit.

“You are in school as a kid and the teacher asks what is the cap­i­tal of France. A hand goes up and the pupil says Bordeaux . . . the teacher says ‘very, very good ef­fort but no’.

“The next pupil says Nice, ‘no’ replies teacher, ‘but great ef­fort’; an­other says Paris and teacher replies ‘well done’.

“With Sch­midt, how­ever, there is no bull, so there will be no ‘good ef­fort’ to those who an­swered Bordeaux and Nice.

“You want to be on the money the whole time, so if you want to chal­lenge some­thing he says you bet­ter get it right.”

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