All coaches have a ‘sell-by date’ and Joe Schmidt appeared to stay past his in 2019, according to Brian O’Driscoll.
The former Ireland international was speaking on Friday Night Rugby and explained that even great coaches can stagnate when left managing the one team for too long.
“I get the impression that the environment stagnated as well and it needs refreshing. Listen, don’t get me wrong, Joe [Schmidt] has been absolutely phenomenal in what he’s done but I think there’s a sell-by date on all coaches.
“I remember thinking of Michael Cheika. He did five years with us and we were sad to see him go but at the same time, I think it was the time [for him to go].
“It’s hard to continue to evolve and change things and come up with new concepts after that period of time.
“I was still enjoying listening to what he had to say but it felt as though it needed change. Listen, Joe managed to stay in the job for six years.
“If you look back on the last year did it feel as if it was a year too long? Probably, because there wasn’t that next level of evolution as the game shifted as well coming into a World Cup year.
Will Schmidt be involved in a Rugby World Cup review?
With Schmidt now gone from the IRFU, it is presumably not essential for the New Zealander to take part in a review of what went wrong in Japan.
However, O’Driscoll wondered if Schmidt would take part in analysing what he and his side could have done better at the World Cup.
“I’ll be intrigued to see whether he looks for feedback himself from the IRFU as to their post-World Cup report and what the findings come up with.
“Whether he’s part of that, whether he goes to sit down with the relevant individuals, David Nucifora, and find out from his own perspective where the feeling is if he missed out or he missed the mark,” O’Driscoll said.
The former Ireland captain took part in several post-World Cup reviews himself, with the one following Ireland’s poo-stage exit in 2007 the one that stands out for him.
“I remember the review after 2007 predominantly because it was such a disaster. We got a version of [the independent report] ourselves. I’m sure we didn’t get the whole truth and all the details of it but we got a version of it.
“Then the knock-on effect was that meeting down in Enfield where Rob Kearney did say, ‘I don’t feel as though the Munster players have shown the same spirit in the Irish jersey.’
“Which was, I have to say, an incredibly brave thing for a young guy to say. I’ve lauded him about that in the past. That couldn’t have been easy. Sometimes you have to break a few eggs along the way.
“Whether it was true or not… he rattled some people’s cages in there and it obviously worked well to our benefit, because we won the Grand Slam the next year,” O’Driscoll said.
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