'He's not become a bad coach over night, he's unlucky'- Stuart Barnes defends Joe Schmidt
According to Stuart Barnes, blame for Ireland’s marked dip in form beginning with their World Cup elimination, should not be laid at the feet of Joe Schmidt.
In this moment in time, it feels like a lifetime ago when, if the notion took him to run for office, Ireland’s Kiwi tactical savant would be a safe bet for any seat of power in the land.
But, after the chastening defeat to Argentina in that gut-wrenching quarter-final, followed by a draw with Wales and a feeble defeat at the hands of Les Bleus, every move Schmidt makes is now the source of great scrutiny.
His tactics, selection policy and, indeed, worth as a coach, are been deemed a legitimate subject for public debate.
In analysing last weekend’s Six Nations action for his Sky Sports column, Barnes ventured that the former Leinster boss, through a deluge of injuries to front line players, has been cursed by the rugby gods.
And, that very hex from above, was no more evident than in the Stade de France last weekend.
“We can talk tactics and selection as much as we like but sometimes Lady Luck intervenes and there's nothing a coach can do about it,” Barnes wrote.
“Joe Schmidt and the good lady once seemed to be close but from the day Ireland beat France in the World Cup she has turned her back on him. Ireland and Schmidt have done wonders in the past few years but with so many injuries they were left struggling to hang on against the depth of the French squad in Paris.”
However, he went on to someway echo the refrains of Rob Kearney and Schmidt after the defeat to Guy Noves’ side, stating that the poor levels of execution Ireland demonstrated when making inroads to the French rear guard are inexcusable.
“There was nothing unlucky about poor Irish hands when they were building pressure close to the French line in a first half of complete domination and there was nothing Schmidt could do about it. The Irish coach hasn't become a bad coach overnight, he has become unlucky.”