Following New Zealand’s 28-24 World Cup quarter final win over Ireland, at Stade de France, their head coach made sure to give Joe Schmidt a much deserved name-check.
Asked what was going through his head as Ireland out together 37 attacking phases, over the final four minutes, and got as far as the Kiwi 22, Ian Foster insisted, “I actually felt quite calm, to be honest.
“They were going with a cut-and-paste attack, doing the same sort of things. We were really patient and they were really efficient with it. It was hard to get your nose in, we were hunting and searching, but we showed patience.
“With Scott McLeod, and Joe Schmidt helping him, we have been building our system for today and how we want to defend. We are making some strides in that space and I was delighted. One mistake and the game could have gone the other way. But you haven’t been to a World Cup if you haven’t had a game like that… That is what World Cups are about – you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and trust what you do.”
With the fingerprints of Joe Schmidt all over this All Blacks side, they rumbled Ireland when it really counted. The ABs damaged Ireland with chips over the 14-man defensive press, scored a Will Jordan try off a lineout set-play [right out of the Schmidt playbook] and went after the World No.1 side at the breakdown, dominating there for the opening 20 minutes as they raced into a 13-0 lead that proved enough cushion in the end, as they never relinquished that scoreboard advantage.
After the game, there was a lovely Joe Schmidt moment with Johnny Sexton and his son, Luca, and a nice glimpse into the victorious All Blacks dressing room.
Joe Schmidt and Johnny Sexton
Although he has done very little press during this World Cup, Joe Schmidt must have been wounded by all the talk of Andy Farrell creating a more relaxed environment in the Ireland camp.
His six years in charge of Ireland brought three Six Nations titles [one Grand Slam], two historic [first ever and first home] wins over New Zealand, an away series win in Australia and a Test match win over the Springboks in South Africa. Farrell’s Ireland team play better rugby and have more depth than Schmidt’s version, but there is not a gaping distance between both.
Schmidt will have been targeting the possibility of this quarter final from the moment he took a selector and assistant coaching role with the All Blacks. He returned to play a key role in sticking Ireland with another quarter final exit.
Following the game, though, he was picked up by TV cameras arranging for a catch-up beer with Keith Earls, called Johnny Sexton a “champion” and asked young Luca Sexton. “Are you going to be a champion, like your dad?”
@virginmediasport “You gonna be a champion like your dad?” A lovely moment last night as Joe Schmidt chats to Johnny Sexton’s son after full-time. #IREvNZL #RWC2023 #IrishRugby #Rugby ♬ original sound – Virgin Media Sport
Joe Schmidt ‘in the sheds’
The All Blacks media machine has long clued into what their fans want and often provide post-match dressing room/sheds footage, and moments.
One such moment involves Joe Schmidt and Jordie Barrett, who clinched the Kiwi’s win with a try-saving tackle on Rónan Kelleher. In the video, both men share a warm embrace and Schmidt declares:
“How good? How good?!”
Moments later, he is pictured with Ardie Savea, who picked up Man of the Match and made sure to give Ireland their dues for pushing the standards in world rugby for the past two years.
“Oh, it’s unbelievable,” reflected Jordie Barrett. “A couple of yellow cards, plenty of what ifs but we defended three or four minutes of unreal phase play at the end, there.
“Sammy Whitelock came up with the plum, so just unbelievably proud. We had a lot of trust in our defensive systems. We’ve been doing that for a while, so it’s pretty special.”
Many of us feared Joe Schmidt would come back to haunt us, somewhere down the road, when he returned to New Zealand after almost a decade on our shores. When the moment came, he had those All Black players primed and pumped.
- Johnny Sexton fumes at All Blacks centre Rieko Ioane in post-match exchange
- “You cannot do that” – Matt Williams on roughest reason Ireland lost to the All Blacks
- “We have to say it” – Brian O’Driscoll on Johnny Sexton moment he may regret the most
- Well-intentioned press conference question draws emotional Johnny Sexton response
- Rob Kearney in stitches as Peter O’Mahony delivers emphatic post-match interview