‘I tend to be a little bit of a workaholic’ – Schmidt putting family first

AND SO, IRELAND must face up to life without Joe Schmidt.

Barring a last-minute shock, the 53-year-old is expected to confirm his intention to leave his position as Ireland head coach after the World Cup next year.

An official announcement is expected from the IRFU today, with Schmidt having sat down with his family yesterday to copperfasten a decision that had already been indicated to the union in recent weeks.

Schmidt is set to confirm his departure. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

David Nucifora and Philip Browne have been aware of Schmidt’s intention in principle for some time, explaining why Browne has underlined that no one person is indispensable to the IRFU and that there is coaching talent in their systems ready to succeed Schmidt. 

For Schmidt, family comes first in this decision, as he hinted after Ireland had beaten the US on Saturday.

Schmidt stressed the lure of remaining on to continue working with his “Carton House family” and the sheer effort his players put in for Ireland as having been attractions to stay, but then indicated the strain his job has put on his family.

“I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to working,” said Schmidt. “I tend to be a little bit of a workaholic and so if there’s a competitive advantage that I can find that I can help players attain then I’m going to be looking as hard as I possibly can.

“And that means that I’m out of the house a fair bit or even at home I’m plugging away, looking at things with a microscope. So that’s probably a character flaw. If you probably talk to some of the people on the staff, it’s one of many I have.

“Hopefully they don’t disclose all the other ones but I think it’s one of those things that, you know, I first talked to the family in the summer and I’ll be going backwards and forwards with the IRFU tomorrow [Sunday].

“I gave myself the deadline of tomorrow [Sunday], or Monday morning to say, ‘This is it definitively.’ So definitively, yeah, it will be then.

“As I said inside, it’s probably frustrating for you guys and I apologise for that. It’s wrecking my head, as I said, so I can’t wait until I can say ‘Right, this is it’.”

The 53-year-old has been a major success in Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Typically, Schmidt also underlined that the announcement of his decision is far from being the end of his Ireland tenure.

“Either way, the next 11 months is massive, whether it continues beyond that or whether that’s the endpoint,” said Schmidt.

“It’s massive. We’ve got the two biggest tournaments we play. We’ve got the Six Nations where we’re the defending champs and the World Cup where we’re certainly not the defending champs because we haven’t got past the quarter-finals and we’d love to do that.”

So, unless there is a major shock, the IRFU’s press release will confirm the future departure of a coach who has guided Ireland to a Grand Slam, two other Six Nations titles, their first two wins over the All Blacks, a series success in Australia, two consecutive November clean sweeps, and a first-ever win against the Springboks on South African soil.

He’s now World Rugby Coach of the Year, but there are others around him in line to step up.

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Current assistant coaches Andy Farrell and Simon Easterby will be among the favourites, while Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster was also recently name-checked by IRFU CEO Browne. Leo Cullen, the Leinster head coach, is another possible candidate.

There is real coaching quality in that pool and the IRFU could easily attract world-class coaches from abroad if they did decide to go against their oft-repeated intention to appoint from within.

Nonetheless, confirmation of losing Schmidt – even if only after next year’s World Cup – will be a wrenching blow.

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