Joe Schmidt explains how he masterminded Ireland’s first All Blacks victories

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt has explained the tactics behind Ireland’s first-ever wins over the All Blacks after 111 years of hurt against New Zealand.

New Zealand native Schmidt’s first game in charge of Ireland came against Samoa in November 2013, and just two weeks later he had an opportunity to claim a win against his home country.

Ireland stormed into a 19-point lead within 20 minutes, but the All Blacks fought back exceptionally well and ultimately won the game thanks to a last-gasp try from Ryan Crotty.

Schmidt was speaking on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown and revisited that gut-wrenching loss, explaining how the game provided Ireland with a blueprint on how to beat the All Blacks despite the defeat.

Joe Schmidt on Ireland’s loss to the All Blacks in 2013.

“The very first time we played them in 2013, I’d had the team for two weeks and we’d played Samoa and then got thumped a bit by Australia,” Schmidt explained.

“We were loose with the ball and I always felt that New Zealand are the best transition team in the world. If you kick loosely to them or you’re loose with the ball, they will really go after you.

“So we decided that we’ll just try to make sure that New Zealand were forced to make every tackle. We weren’t going to give them anything that was loose and they couldn’t get any real counter-attack against us.

“At 22-7 at half time it was going pretty well and I think we’ll just finish it there.”

Redemption came three years later.

Although the loss in 2013 was a bitter pill to swallow for Ireland that day, they did exact revenge on the All Blacks three years later at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The game was very similar to the encounter in 2013 in many aspects, as Ireland led 25-8 at half time, before an inevitable All Blacks comeback in the second half.

With 15 minutes to go the All Blacks trailed by just four points, but Ireland were able to hang on in the end, as a late Robbie Henshaw try sealed a 40-29 victory for Schmidt’s side.

Schmidt would coach Ireland to one more victory against New Zealand in 2018, in which the All Blacks were almost entirely starved of opportunities, as the men in green claimed a 16-9 win at the Aviva Stadium.

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