The long and winding coaching career of Joe Schmidt - who took Leinster and Ireland to the previously undiscovered heights, and who is now on the coaching team of his native New Zealand

All Blacks’ assistant coach Joe Schmidt has enjoyed a storied career as a coach. 

He’s taken Leinster to the top of the European rugby tree, and guided Ireland to previously unheard heights. And, now, he’s on the New Zealand Rugby brains trust that – until the match against South Africa at Twickenham – looked to have timed a run to the 2023 Rugby World Cup pretty well.

Related: Superb South Africa hand New Zealand worst ever defeat

Ten facts you should know about New Zealand attack coach Joe Schmidt

1. Josef Schmidt was born on September 12, 1965, in Kawakawa, a small town in the Bay of Islands area of the Northland Region of New Zealand.

2. After a spell playing as an amateur in Ireland – and coaching age-grade rugby – he coached at Palmerston North Boys’ High, Napier Boys’ High School and Tauranga Boys’ College, where he was also deputy principal.

3. He also coached New Zealand Schools for a period before leaving full-time teaching to coach Bay of Plenty. He then joined Blues as an assistant in 2004, leaving three seasons later to take up an assistants’ role under Vern Cotter at Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne.

4. Former Blues and Leinster star Isa Nacewa has long claimed the credit for bringing Schmidt to the attention of Leinster Rugby, when they were looking for a replacement for Michael Cheika in 2010. During the Schmidt era, Leinster won the 2011 and 2012 Champions Cup, and the 2013 Challenge Cup and Pro12 title. Leinster won 77 of 99 matches while he was at the helm.

Related: All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad 2023

5. Schmidt became head coach of Ireland following Declan Kidney’s departure in 2013. It was the start of a golden period for the national side. They won the 2014 Six Nations, claimed a first-ever series win in Argentina, and climbed to third in World Rugby’s rankings with a clean-sweep of South Africa, Georgia and Australia in the 2014 November internationals – and went on to win the 2015 Six Nations. But they were knocked out of that year’s World Cup at the quarter-final stage by Argentina.

6. After a disappointing third-place finish in the 2016 Six Nations, Schmidt led Ireland to their first every away-win over South Africa. Their 26-20 victory came despite playing nearly an hour with 14 players, after CJ Stander was red carded. Ireland ultimately lost the series.

7. He followed up that first win against the Springboks in South Africa by orchestrating a first-ever Irish victory over New Zealand, at Soldier Field in Chicago. A 27-24 win over Australia on November 26 that year meant Ireland became the first team to beat South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in a single year since England in 2003.

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8. He rejected a coaching position with New Zealand to remain as Ireland head coach until after the end of the 2019 World Cup – and led them to the 2018 Six Nations title, including a first Grand Slam since 2009, before plotting a first series win in Australia … and a first win over New Zealand on Irish soil. But another run to the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals in Japan ended when Ireland lost 46-14 to New Zealand. That was Schmidt’s last game in charge – he was replaced at the helm by defence coach Andy Farrell.

9. The Covid-19 pandemic ended a brief consultancy spell with Spain – and Schmidt was appointed to a new role as World Rugby’s director of rugby and high performance in October 2020 – with responsibility for player welfare, training and education. He resigned a year later to return to New Zealand for family reasons. Back home, Joe Schmidt joined the Blues in a part-time role for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, following the departure of Tana Umaga – and was credited with the team’s first Super Rugby final appearance in 19 years. 

10. He was made a New Zealand selector for Ireland’s southern hemisphere tour in 2022 – stepping into a coaching role after head coach Ian Foster and two of his assistants tested positive for Covid-19. The All Blacks won the first match, but lost the next two, as Ireland claimed a first-ever series win in the Land of the Long White Cloud. He became the All Blacks’ attack coach in August 2022.

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