Rugby The Offload: Schmidt book the more ordinary for absence of key details

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‘Ordinary Joe’ can be used by publishers to convince athletes and coaches of the need to hire a professional writer to work alongside them.

Ironically, more information is gleaned about the former Ireland coach in two terrificone hour interviews to promote the book by Keith Duggan(The Irish Times) and Brendan Fanning (The Sunday Independent) than this part memoir, part coaching manual and part diary. By trying to tick all three boxes and glossing over key moments – the 2015 World Cup and defeat to Japan – the 327 pages leaves the same feeling of mediocrity that must have perplexed Schmidt throughout 2019.

The two interviews prove that employing a ghost writer with journalistic or literary credentials would have compelled Schmidt to dig deeper into his theory of ordinariness. In Brendan Barrington, Penguin have the best copy editor this column has encountered, but the eternal sports tomes have a JR Moehringer spending months inside Andre Agassi’s head or, closer to home, the award winning autobiographies of Andy Lee and Richie Sadlier were stitched together by wordsmiths of the calibre of Niall Kelly and Dion Fanning.

There are some revelations, with Schmidt noting how injuries to James Ryan and Tadhg Furlong hampered preparations for the quarter-final defeat to New Zealand but the mystery surrounding Devin Toner’s non-selection remains unsolved. Essentially, Schmidt says the veteran lock was discarded because the management feared he would be cited.

But Toner was not cited. The explanation does not add up.

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