Saturday 21 April 2018

George Hook: An open letter to Joe Schmidt

George Hook

George Hook

Dear Joe,

Please forgive the uninvited mail, but I know it is a principle of coaching to seek information from any source and this is meant as a suggestion to help what I see is a recurring problem for Leinster and Ireland.

The set piece has cost you and your team dear. On Saturday, almost every scrum could have ended in a penalty against Leinster, and the line-out inaccuracies turned a possible win into a loss in Clermont.

Despite what I am sure was an intensive week's practice, there was little improvement at the throw-in at the Aviva.

You were not to blame for the scrummaging shambles you inherited. This was a product of criminal disregard by the IRFU and successive national and provincial teams who were in denial for over a decade about our failings in the front.

The sticking plaster solution of mercenaries from the southern hemisphere culminated in last year's disaster at Twickenham. I sympathise with you in trying to pick up the pieces.

However, the scrum and line-out are fairly simple technical issues to coach, while the line-out in its simplest form is hardly different from throwing a dart at a board.

However, you must be held responsible for the line-out failures.

Interestingly, nowhere in the raft of experts employed by Irish rugby can I find a throwing coach – an amazing omission given the cost of failure in that area of the game.

If Sean Cronin and Richardt Strauss were golfers, they would never hit a fairway.

Throwing to the line-out is like hitting a golf ball; it starts with the grip. Your hookers grip the ball incorrectly.

Cronin, since his arrival in the big time, has been a suspect thrower and it appears that nothing has been done to help him. Interestingly, Bernard Jackman's international career was ended by his inability to find a jumper.

May I offer my help? I have no wish to either join the coaching team nor interact with your players, but I can show you how to get help to solve the problem in a matter of weeks.

Even Brian O'Driscoll using the correct method could be better than the current incumbents. Interested?

Yours sincerely,

George Hook

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport