Schmidt joins growing list of Ref bashers
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has joined the chorus of criticism surrounding the referees at this year’s World Cup.
Schmidt admitted Japan’s stunning World Cup win over Ireland was “fantastic for the tournament” – despite wishing his side had not been on the receiving end of the ‘Shock in Shizuoka’.
Four years on from their ‘Miracle of Brighton’ victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England, Japan again upset the formbook with a 19-12 defeat of Ireland in Shizuoka last Saturday.
“If it wasn’t us that lost the game, I’d say, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic for the tournament’,” Ireland coach Schmidt told reporters on Tuesday.
“Everywhere we’ve gone, the Japanese people have been incredibly excited about the game. They’re delighted with us, obviously, and I think loads of interest has been spiked by that.”
However, despite his huge praise for Japan, the New Zealander could not contain his frustration with French official Jerome Garces, a touch judge on Saturday, who will be the referee for the Ireland and Russia match.
“We were penalised for offside four times and we’ve now got the feedback that three of those were incorrect calls… It’s pretty hard to keep getting off the line and onto the front foot when you are getting those calls.
“Two of them were from an AR (assistant referee) who is going to be refereeing us on Thursday, so we know we’re going to have to be on our best behaviour.”
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The Ireland boss has made 11 personnel changes and two positional switches to his side for Thursday’s match in Kobe against group minnows Russia, with fit-again flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, the reigning World Player of the Year, captaining his country for the first time.
Ireland may require bonus points, achieved by scoring four tries in a match, as well as wins against both Russia and Samoa to be certain of making the last eight. But Schmidt warned against forcing the issue.
“We have to stay around our performance-orientated goals, because for us we can’t put anything on the scoreboard without getting the things we need to put in place; that we build the pressure or that we create the opportunities from,” the New Zealander said.
“I felt the first 20 minutes last weekend was very good, we got the right field position and turned a few balls over which was frustrating.
“But we converted two tries on the back of some really good line breaks and maybe that was to our detriment because we kind of stepped back after that and didn’t play with the same front-foot.
“You can’t afford to do that against quality opposition.”