Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bay links to victorious Irish coach Schmidt

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WELL DESERVED: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and team manager Mick Kearney celebrate after beating the All Blacks in Chicago. PHOTO: photosport
WELL DESERVED: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and team manager Mick Kearney celebrate after beating the All Blacks in Chicago. PHOTO: photosport

The celebrations continue to resonate around the world after Ireland's historic first ever win over the All Blacks in Chicago on Sunday.

Quite rightly the players who made the all-conquering All Blacks look second rate have received most of the attention.

But the mastermind behind the victory was unassuming Kiwi Joe Schmidt, who is used to making history as a coach.

He first made his name as a mentor with a special skill set as Tauranga Boys' College First XV coach, then was assistant to Vern Cotter at Bay of Plenty in 2003 and 2004, highlighted by winning the Ranfurly Shield for the first and only time.

Schmidt moved up to the Blues, then to French and Irish provincial rugby before landing the Ireland job in 2013.

That first season in charge his team led the All Blacks in Dublin until the very last play of the match when a converted try broke Irish hearts.

This year his Ireland team beat the Springboks on South African soil for the first time and now he has knocked off the number one target in world rugby.

Murray Kinsella, an award-winning rugby writer based in Ireland, says
some of the Irish players are already talking about doing it again in Dublin on Sunday, November 20.

"That's the mind-set Schmidt has helped create in this squad. They heartily celebrated the victory but as soon as that final whistle went, many of them were thinking of the rematch in Dublin," Kinsella said.

"Joe's reputation has soared once again in the last few days, based on how much he got right in the All Blacks game. Doubting Schmidt is proving more and more foolish each year.

"The tactical approach was perfect from Ireland, particularly given their shortened preparation window, of a simple game plan the players could easily follow, and it worked.

"Again, this only serves to increase the impression that Schmidt is a master tactician ... victories like this one, and the first ever Irish win on South African soil in June, make Schmidt close to untouchable.

"In Joe we trust, is how lots of supporters put it when speaking about Schmidt online."

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan is a friend and former colleague of Schmidt's.

"Joe coached the First XV in 2000 to 2002 and was a great guy, very personable. Even at First XV level he was very detailed in his planning," Mangan said.

"I remember a very detailed sort of game plan in terms of moves that he expected the boys to learn. He would have had 10 pages of documentation and game plan strategy that he shared.

"He was very analytical, really hard working, did his homework and really engaged with the boys. They could understand his passion and enthusiasm for the game.

"He has been a real student of the game and you can see in how he found the best strategy to beat the All Blacks."

There was another Western Bay connection in Ireland's win over the All Blacks. Centre Jared Payne was born in Tauranga and attended Papamoa Primary School.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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