Sunday 18 February 2018

'He looked at me, then at 1000 girls...' - Joe Schmidt recalls facing down student challenge

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

IRELAND rugby coach Joe Schmidt has shared the secret of his success at the Pendulum Summit. And it’s typical of his down-to-earth approach to life.

Schmidt revealed that in New Zealand you can’t offer someone more money because of pay scales. So you keep staff by investing in them, getting to know them, make them feel like they are delivering what needs to be delivered.

“I left two years later,” said Schmidt, to laughter. However, he added that it wasn’t because of that incident – it was because he moved into coaching.

One of the big challenges Schmidt said he faced was at that school. A group of around 1,000 girls from the nearby girls college had decided to march in support of low paid teachers – and they marched to the boys’ school.

Schmidt told teachers to hold the line and not let the boys join them.

“We get through the first five, ten minutes of it,” he said.

One boy jumped the fence and Schmidt thought it was over.

“I yelled out his name and said don’t move – get back over the fence.”

“He looked at me and he looked at the thousand girls and he looked back at me and slowly climbed back over the fence,” said Schmidt to more laughter.

“I knew his name, I knew his mum and dad, I’d invested in him,” he explained. “He was an outstanding sportsman…he knew that because I knew exactly who he was that he couldn’t do what he was going to do.”

“We held the line til the bell went. It was like a boxing match and everybody went back to their corner,” he added.

“If I hadn’t invested in him I would lost him and all the other young men, and they wouldn’t have returned,” said Schmidt.

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