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Just Who Is ‘Gentleman’ Joe Schmidt?

He’s known as Gentleman Joe, but don’t be fooled by the soft-sounding nickname, Ireland’s new rugby coach is anything but a pushover: quite the opposite, in fact. This popular and esteemed New Zealander, with his excellent coaching reputation, is definitely a force to be feared by opposition teams in the Six Nations. Before taking up the mantle of Ireland coach Schmidt, now aged 48, had already taken Leinster to the Heineken Cup twice (and won – 2011 and 2012) and also impressed with the Amlin Challenge Cup (which the team won in 2013) and the PR012 (another win in 2013 and runners-up in 2011 and 2012). Leinster was his first head coaching job in Europe (he’d been New Zealand rugby union coach prior to his move) and assistant coach to Clermont Auvergne in France in 2007. He joined Leinster in 2010 and stayed for three years. Interesting facts about Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt •    Known for his tactile and attacking approach rather than a defensive philosophy, Schmidt has also made the Irish team technically excellent. •    Schmidt had planned on becoming a school teacher after leaving university and taught at Palmerston North in New Zealand boys’ High School. He was encouraged to take on a sports team by his then rector Dave Syms (at the time Schmidt himself was playing for the Kiwi squad Manawatu). His rugby coaching talent came to the fore with the school boys team. It whet his appetite for coaching the game Big Time and the rest really, from this time on, is history… •    The New Zealander took over the Irish coaching job last year and which was made available after Declan Kidney’s contract was terminated on April 2, 2013. This was due to a poor result for the Irish team in the 2013 Six Nations Championships. •    Schmidt’s contract is for three years and is due to run out during the 2015-16 season. His first game coaching the Ireland squad was on November 9 last year against Samoa. •    Schmidt was no stranger to Ireland when he came to Leinster, having played amateur rugby in the Irish lower leagues during the decade of the 1990s. •    The New Zealander admits he is “no planner” in his personal life but is detailed when it comes to working with players. •    Schmidt is a big supporter of epilepsy charities since his son Luke suffers from a severe form of the condition and at one point suffered 15 seizures a day. Luke has also undergone numerous brain surgeries after his first seizure at the young age of just four following the removal of a tumour. The condition also put an end to the now 10-year-olds dreams of a rugby career. •    Schmidt also has an 18 year old daughter (currently studying in New Zealand) and another son, Tim who is at school in Ireland and plays rugby for the team there. Here at the Sandymount Hotel we’re big supporters of Schmidt and looking forward to seeing his results this year. Watch this space…

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Susan is super passionate about hotels and in a past life was a travel writer and hotel critic. As a Dublin native she also loves everything about the city and wants to share her knowledge on all the best bits.