Sunday 15 September 2019

'He has a number of big opinions' - Joe Schmidt fires back at Agustin Pichot over Devin Toner comments

Joe Schmidt has hit back at Agustin Pichot
Joe Schmidt has hit back at Agustin Pichot
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Joe Schmidt has hit back at World Rugby vice-president Agustin Pichot after he claimed that he would ask for answers if he was in Devin Toner's position after he missed out on Ireland's World Cup squad.

The selection of Jean Kleyn, who recently became Irish-qualified based on the three-year residency rule, drew plenty of criticism, including from Pichot.

The former Argentina scrum-half took to Twitter and wrote:

"If I was Devin Toner ..... I will be asking WR for answers. I feel sorry for him; nothing against for who was properly selected for the RWC19 by the way. But feel that way."

Schmidt was clearly irked by Picot's comments and speaking at Ireland's team hotel today, he responded:

"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 (Warren Gatland) last week, they weren't relevant to him either.

"What is relevant is that under the laws of the game, as they were, we are entitled to pick guys who have qualified.

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"Considering he is involved in World Rugby, he could have a look at what the rules were and not have so many things 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.

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"With Ireland the qualification involvement is I don't know probably six or seven per cent. The rest are home grown guys who are not only home grown 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.

"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.

"I would question how much CJ Stander has committed to his local environment, what Bundee (Aki) 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 you 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."

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