Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has detailed how he “accidentally” became one of world rugby’s best coaches in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.
Schmidt revealed that his first intention as a coach was on the hardwood, not the rugby field.
“I’m an incredibly accidental coach,” Schmidt said. “I’d been playing a bit of basketball as a point guard – I’m not the biggest man.
“When I first started [teaching] at Palmerston North Boys’ High I got told by Dave Sims, the director, that I needed to be involved in the co-curricular life of the school and I said ‘I’d love to coach basketball’.
“He said ‘that’s brilliant, that’s on Friday nights it won’t affect your rugby coaching on Saturday mornings’.
“At the time I was playing on the wing for Manawatu and it kind of went from there.
“I played rugby from the time I was four-years-old so it’s not I don’t love the game but it wasn’t an intended career. I have a few priorities that reshaped the thinking a little bit.”
Schmidt is grateful for his time in rugby, but is often quick to deflect praise he receives for transforming Ireland into the juggernaut it is today.
“I’ve had an unbelievable time in the game whether it be with Bay of Plenty and the Ranfurly Shield or even when we finished up at the Blues with the last semifinal which I thought was a really good step,” he said.
“You’ve got to run out of luck at some stage. I felt we did a bit in 2015 at the World Cup so that’s something that’s probably a good time to finish on – post that I’ll have had two shots at trying to get guys ready for that and then finish up from there.”
Schmidt announced last year that he will step away from Ireland after their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign, and he will take a break from coaching indefinitely. He has helmed Ireland since 2013.
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