Close the Door on Your Way Out Joe

This time last year Joe Schmidt was at what might be called ‘Peak Management’ with the Irish rugby team on top of the world and ready to dominate at the Rugby World Cup.

They always say you should enjoy the winning moments because they can be fleeting and Schmidt will understand that keenly as he sits at home, renews his connection with the important things in life that the spotlight can blind you from and maybe, just maybe kicks the cat over how his legacy is being dismantled in reviews of what went wrong in Japan.

Another truism is that ‘victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.’ The phrase was made famous by John F Kennedy accepting responsibility for the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

No lives were lost in Japan but the lustre of Schmidt’s reign has definitely been smudged and this week’s IRFU review of the tournament and the preparation that went into it will be less comfortable reading for Schmidt fans as his autobiography.

The latter will sell more though as the Review and its 50 recommendations on what went wrong and how the mistakes can be avoided by Andy Farrell is not being published.

That the review should have taken place and be brutally honest in its findings is certainly necessary, if a little cruel on those who carry the can.

Speaking to media after the report was presented internally, IRFU Performance Manager David Nucifora said “Should we have developed our game further? Potentially yes with hindsight. We pay our coaches to make those decisions, they’ve been good at those for a long period of time.”

Nucifora himself is paid to manage the coaches and the development of the sport on the field of play and it is likely that he has accepted a fair chunk of blame behind closed doors.

Closing the door on Schmidt on his way out was always likely to be the headline grabber though and you just hope that whatever friendship the two men built up over their time together will survive.

Andy Farrell will have a bit of time to read the fifty suggestions and more importantly the lines between them. Coming in after a manager who the country and the sport loved right up until a messy end is always going to be difficult. How many times has his name appeared in a sentence alongside David Moyes? The fact that he himself will have taken a big hit as part of the team under Schmidt probably makes it even harder than it was for Alex Ferguson’s successor.

That’s what you get though when you climb to the top. If it was easy everyone would be able to do it.

This very week last year Schmidt was being honoured as the Signify Sports Manager of the Year. Yesterday it was all about Jim Gavin and Joe was otherwise engaged. Sport can be cruel at times.

Image credit: Dan Sheridan, Inpho.ie

Similar Articles