Joe Schmidt’s autobiography, ‘Ordinary Joe’, is released today and it offers a number of unique insights into the mind of one the most influential coaches in Irish rugby.
Of course, many people who pick up the book will be looking to understand the former Ireland head coach’s thought process throughout the 2019 Rugby World Cup which saw his side knocked out at the quarter-final stage at the hands of New Zealand.
One of the most controversial decisions throughout the World Cup and its build-up was Schmidt’s 31-man squad selection and the subsequent omission of second-row stalwart Devin Toner.
The Kiwi head coach chose Tadhg Beirne and Irish-qualified Jean Kleyn ahead of Toner but it seems what played a major factor in Schmidt’s decision was the fact that the Irish management thought Toner would have been cited for a shoulder charge in the warm-up win over Wales in Cardiff.
“We hadn’t noticed the incident at the time, but we reviewed the incident and it didn’t look good,” Schmidt wrote.
“We had been warned by Alain Rolland, in his presentation to us, that any shoulder-to-head contact was likely to have a starting entry point of a six-week suspension.
“It was a difficult call, but we decided to go with Tadhg Beirne, who can play both second-row and back-row, and Jean Kleyn, the only specialist tighthead-scrummaging second-row in the squad.”
Of course, Toner was never cited for the shoulder charge but it is doubtful that the Meath native’s inclusion in the 31-man squad would have changed the outcome of Ireland’s disappointing campaign.