Home Rugby Joe Schmidt Hits Back At Agustin Pichot Criticism Of Kleyn Selection

Joe Schmidt Hits Back At Agustin Pichot Criticism Of Kleyn Selection

Joe Schmidt has responded to Agustin Pichot after the World Rugby Vice-Chairman expressed his disappointment at Devin Toner’s exclusion from Ireland’s World Cup squad.

The Leinster lock was the shock exclusion from Schmidt’s squad announcement yesterday after it was confirmed that South African born Munster second-row Jean Kleyn had been selected in his stead.

Kleyn only qualified for Irish selection in the week of the first warm-up game against Italy and has now been chosen to travel to Japan with the squad despite having made just two appearances.

Pichot took to Twitter to air his views that Devin Toner was hard done by in Schmidt’s selection process. This comes after his statement last week that the world rankings were ‘ridiculous’ after Wales had leap-frogged New Zealand into first place despite never having beaten them.

“Gus Pichot had a big opinion about who should be world number one as well. I think he has a number of big opinions, but they’re not ones that are relevant for us and, talking to Gats last week, it wasn’t relevant to him either,” Schmidt said on Tuesday afternoon.

“What is relevant is that under the laws of the game, as they were, we are entitled to pick guys who have qualified. Considering he is involved in World Rugby, maybe he could have a look at what the rules were and not have so many much to say because for us it is tough enough to do our job and tough enough for me to have a conversation as I did with Dev.”

Schmidt continued:

“With Ireland, the qualification involvement is I don’t know probably six or seven per cent. The rest are homegrown guys who are not only homegrown but who are domiciled here apart from two years when Johnny was used from Paris. If there was any question about the number of Irish people involved then I would be surprised when you match up those numbers.

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“I’m not sure I’m the most qualified to comment as I am a blow-in myself and I’ll be blowing out soon enough so Gus Pichot has changed the rules and those rules will apply beyond this World Cup and they will apply as long as people feel that is the right residency rule.”

Schmidt was keen to highlight the contribution made to Irish society by those players born outside of Ireland, namely, CJ Stander and Bundee Aki.

“I would question how much CJ Stander has committed to his local environment, what Bundee has done for his local environment, that they are domiciled here in Ireland and have been for a number of years. They have contributed to their community and I’m not sure how long you have to contribute to a community and work hard in that community before u can be accepted by those people.

“I was put under a lot of pressure when Bundee played his first game. A lot of people wrote things but by the end of that first season he had played for Ireland he was named as Supporters’ Player of the Year. Now, I think that the majority – and maybe it is a silent majority – will fully get behind this squad and be fully supportive in the hope that we can do as well as we can in Japan.”

 

About Michael Corry

Sports Journalist based in Dublin. Hit me up if you have a unique story to tell. Email: michael@punditarena.com Twitter: @Corry_10 Instagram: @Corry_10