Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has revealed the heart-breaking message from beyond the grave he received just hours before his side's Rugby World Cup quarterfinal loss to the All Blacks.

The story has been revealed as part of his book, Ordinary Joe, which includes a diary of his time running Ireland's Cup campaign.

Writing on the day of his side's 46-14 loss to New Zealand in Tokyo, Schmidt recounts receiving a card from his son that morning.

"He had a card for me from my Mum, with a message she wrote when she realised she wasn't going to live long enough to see the World Cup.


"I walked away from him to read the card, because I knew I was going to well up. She wrote that she was 'so proud of what you have achieved but even more proud of what you have become'".

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That was one of two particularly tough moments for Schmidt while calling the shots of a World Cup campaign for one of the tournament favourites.

In August, just a week before the side's opening warm-up game against Italy, Schmidt had been forced to return to New Zealand to be with his dying mother.

"Unfortunately this entry is being written while I'm waiting to board my flight to Auckland, where I'll catch a connection down to Palmerston North before heading straight out to the beach at Himatangi. The family are all scrambling back because my Mum is dying.

"She was lucid, though quieter than usual, and she needed a rest after our catch-up. She slipped away the next morning and we spent the next two days grieving.

"We said goodbye to her on the beach that she loved the following day, just the eight kids together."

Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Following the quarterfinal defeat to the All Blacks, Schmidt also said goodbye to coaching rugby, his career not ending quite the way he dreamt it would.


"Not the fairy tale I would have hoped for, or that I felt Rory (Best) or the senior players merited."

Indeed, Schmidt's described the aftermath of the battering his side received at the hands of the country he was born in with the words: "Sport can be brutal at times, and I'm feeling beaten up this morning."

Down 22-0 just before halftime, Schmidt revealed he had already lost faith in his side's ability to come back after a refereeing decision didn't go their way, but held that belief close to his chest.

"I watch the replay in the dressing room and get a feeling that it's not our day. That's not what I say to the players at halftime."

Looking back on the Ireland campaign as a whole, Schmidt says he would have put more effort into the Six Nations, instead of focusing on peaking for a World Cup that can be unpredictable and terribly fickle.

"We had a longer-term priority and I think it diluted the rhythm that we'd built over the previous five years."

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Schmidt's conclusion was only affirmed by a message he received from an unnamed person involved in New Zealand's forgettable 2007 Cup campaign.

"I received a text after the game from one of the key people involved with the All Blacks' RWC programme in 2007.

"They put more resources into RWC preparation that year than ever before, with a conditioning window, periodisation and planning, but they suffered their worst-ever exit. Losing to an unfancied French team."

Despite the All Blacks' need of a world-class coach like Schmidt to replace Steve Hansen, he has no plans to take up that or any other coaching role any time soon.

"I don't plan to do it seriously. But it's not like coaching in football where you can potentially accumulate enough to retire permanently. I'll have to go back to work at some stage. I'm just not sure what that will look like," Schmidt told the Daily Telegraph.