Schmidt 'won't want to leave this way'
The man who did most to shape Joe Schmidt as a rugby coach in the professional era firmly believes that it is only a matter of time before he is back guiding teams now that his reign as Ireland boss is at an end.
Fellow Kiwi Vern Cotter, who is now director of rugby with Montpellier, said that Schmidt gave his life and soul to Irish rugby over the past decade and will be bitterly disappointed at the way it ended in Japan.
“I think he has earned a well-earned rest. How long that will be? I know Joe and I think in probably about four weeks he will be looking at options,” said Cotter.
Schmidt left teaching to work full-time with Cotter at Bay of Plenty in 2003-04. Cotter, who had played for several clubs in France during his career, then took charge of Clermont Auvergne in 2006 and a year later drafted Schmidt in as his backs coach.
“I think, first of all, just to acknowledge all of Joe’s achievements, every place he has been there has been success. He helped me at Bay of Plenty and he helped me at Clermont. When he went to Ireland I knew it was his time to be a head coach and he has done so well with Leinster and Ireland.
“He’ll be so disappointed with the way it ended in Japan but it doesn’t take away his achievements and how he has helped.
“He is a great family man as well in between being devoted entirely to Ireland and his rugby, he’s been devoted to his family as well.
“He will be back in rugby, I think, he just needs to get some balance and his life after being devoted to everything he has done. I think he needs to take some time for himself, he drives himself very hard.
He won’t want to leave this way,” added Cotter.
Todd out of semis
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has confirmed that flanker Matt Todd is set to miss out on next Saturday’s semi-final against England.
Todd dislocated his shoulder before the World Cup and suffered a knock on the same joint during Saturday’s victory over Ireland. His absence would open the door for Shannon Frizell to be the loose forward cover for Saturday's semi at the Yokohama Stadium.
"(Matt’s) hurt that shoulder again," said Hansen, who confirmed that Sam Cane's withdrawal for Scott Barrett at halftime was a tactical, rather than injury-related, decision. "We'll have to see how he goes but it's probably unlikely that he'll be available. Everyone else is 100 per cent. He dislocated it a wee while ago and got a bang on it again yesterday.”
Cool as a cucumber, Hansen also revealed he was watching his own horse, Nature Strip, run fourth in the Everest at Royal Randwick in Sydney, five hours before kick-off in Tokyo.
Hansen part-owns the five-year-old gelding, who was a joint outsider in the $15.2million race, and very much in the running on the final bend. Hansen revealed he borrowed assistant Ian Foster's headphones and watched the race on a very quiet team bus.
"I'm watching on the Sky Go and got a little bit excited there," Hansen said. "He kicked actually and I thought 'ooh, we've got a show here' and with 200 to go I thought, 'we've still got a show'. With 100 to go I thought 'hang on boy, hang on' but they all came at him. I'm really proud of him, they broke the track record, all four horses… he actually started from barrier 12 so had to do a bit more work than some of the others. Then I had a look at how much I got paid for running fourth and I was reasonably happy about that, so…” (The answer, by the way, is a cool AUS$820,000 (just over €500,000).
Cheika steps down
Michael Cheika has confirmed that he will leave his role as Australia head coach when his current contract expires at the end of this year.
In February of last year Cheika said he would walk away if the Wallabies did not win Rugby World Cup 2019, and the day after he saw his side beaten 40-16 by England in the quarter-finals, the 52-year-old stuck to his word.
"I'm the type of man who is always going to back what he says and I knew from the final whistle but I just wanted to give it that little bit of time to settle down, talk to my people and then make it clear," he said yesterday. "I just wanted to speak to my wife and tell a few people up there about it. I put my chips in earlier in the year when I told people, 'No win, no play'.
"I have no regrets about making the call but I would love to stay on, I’m really attached to the team but, like I said, I made that call. I wanted to show I was prepared to put myself on the line and achieve what I believed the team could achieve and we didn’t do it."
Did you know
Japan v South Africa was a thrilling quarter-final, but it yielded the fewest points - 29 - of any game at RWC 2019.