New York, NY: The phones were ringing off the hook and the long distance rates were racking up. Both RWU Irish Analysts, Declan Yeats and Kevin Fegan, called in with reports affecting their province and Irish rugby. Both bittersweet yet one with more joy than sadness and the other more melancholy. These reports will be confirm later today and likely this week.
Joe Schmidt: Josef Schmidt, the current head coach of Leinster provincial side, is the new Ireland Head Coach, Fegan called in to say. This was confirmed early this morning to our fans in the US, during morning tea. Schmidt was the odds on favorite but with the recent availability of Ewen McKenzie and Jake White, it was uncertain if it was going to be him. Schmidt’s coaching career started as a school teacher and the coach of the New Zealand Schools side. He left that for a full-time position coaching Bay of Plenty Steamers in the NZ Provincial Cup in 2003. After only a year there, he went on to spend 3 years as an assistant coach of the Super Rugby Auckland Blues, making the Super Rugby semi-final in his final year in 2007. Schmidt then left the shores of New Zealand to join Vern Cotter and become the backs and assistant coach of Clermont Auvergne. In his three years as an assistant at Clermont they were runners-up for the Top 14 title the first two years and won it in his final year. Schmidt then left his good friend Cotter and signed on to be the head coach of Leinster. In his 3 years at Leinster, they have won back to back Heineken Cups and are on the verge of winning this year’s Amlin Cup as well as qualifying for the Celtic league playoffs where they have lost back to back finals. Schmidt will be taking over from Declan Kidney whose 5-year contract was not renewed.
Ronan O’Gara to retire: It has yet to be confirmed by O’Gara or his agent but all indications, according to Yeats, are that Ronan O’Gara will be retiring at the end of this season. O’Gara will go down as a Munster and Ireland legend. His service to province and country will be better remembered once he steps away from the game. In his last few seasons he has become a polarizing figure in Irish rugby primarily for continuing to play for province and country long after many thought he had anything left to offer. However, as Simon Shaw of England once said when asked about his availability for national team duties, “As long as I am fit and I am needed for Queen and Country, I will play“! Now if we change the Queen to God because the Irish don’t have a Queen (3 of the 4 provinces, anyway), that was ROG’s approach. If the coach wanted to keep picking him, he was going to keep playing. The anger of fans should have been directed at the coaches. ROG was not going to willfully hand over his position, his self-belief would not let him. It was this self-confidence that made him such a good player in his day. He could miss a kick or two in a row and not look at it as anything more than fluke and line-up for the next kick. Over his career he played 222 games for Munster and in those games he scored 2560 points, broken down into 15 Tries, 368 Conversions, 27 Drop Goals and 556 Penalties, while winning 2 Heineken Cups, 3 Celtic Leagues and 1 Celtic Cup. For Ireland he played 128 times, scored 1083 Points which breaks down into 16 tries, 176 Conversions, 202 penalty kicks, and 15 drop goals while winning 1 Six Nations Championship which was a grand slam and 4 triple crowns.
We at Rugby Wrap-up say welcome to Joe Schmidt and tip our collective hats to Ronan O’Gara on a fabulous career.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.