Sport Six Nations

Monday 23 January 2017

'He is the Margaret Thatcher of coaching' - George Hook lambasts Joe Schmidt's tactics

Tom Rooney

Published 13/02/2016 | 20:39

George Hook and Joe Schmidt
George Hook and Joe Schmidt

Following Ireland’s loss to France in Paris this afternoon, George Hook has compared Joe Schmidt to one of the most polarizing world leaders in history.

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A decidedly average Les Bleus side ran out 10-9 winners over an Irish outfit who’s energy levels clearly deteriorated as the contest wore on.

While the visitors dominated the first half, only Johnny Sexton’s three penalties provided evidence to that effect. Ireland rarely looked like breaching the French line and they failed to score in the second period.

A long time vocal critic of Schmidt’s compact attacking system, George Hook told Tom McGurk on Independent.ie live match streaming that the Kiwi’s tactical intransigence and low risk offence made him unworthy of the high praise he has received and akin to a certain beacon of conservatism.

“It is a miserable defeat. Eventually somebody else is going to have to ask questions about this coach. He has borne a charmed life. There are actually suggestions he is greatest coach in the history of Irish rugby, the greatest coach in the world; that is abject nonsense.

“Schmidt is the Margaret Thatcher of coaching, he is unable to turn. He cannot see the evidence in front of his eyes that the rest of us can see, that this Irish team cannot adapt. It’s based on the most conservative selection, game plan and strategy that I have possibly seen in the professional era,” he said.

The Newstalk presenter was scathing in his summation of Ireland’s lack of try scoring threat and the manner in which, for the second week running, poor scrummaging led to the concession of decisive scores.

“I’ve been saying it since Schmidt took over at Ireland; we are playing this awful conservative game. We own this match for two thirds of it and all we could get was three penalties. We were always on the edge of the abyss, and France were always within a score of winning the match.

“We cannot win without a scrum, which we don’t have. We only have one legitimate prop forward, I know we have Healy and Ross to come, but under the current strength we only had one legitimate prop to play, so the scrum was under pressure. But, we can’t score tries.”

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