New Leinster rugby coach played for Mullingar

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 30th December, 2009 6:05pm

The man who is set to replace Michael Cheika as head coach of Leinster's rugby side once played for Mullingar Rugby Club.

It has been confirmed New Zealander Josef Schmidt signed a three-year deal with the Irish rugby outfit, after serving a stint as assistant coach at French side, Clermont Auvergne.

Schmidt, who came to Mullingar as a player and director of rugby in 1991, played as a full-back for the club for three seasons, almost helping them to the All Ireland League.

"Until Joe came, Mullingar used to play ten man rugby, but he made our back line," Mullingar Rugby Club's Peter Leahy told the Westmeath Examiner.

"He was absolutely fantastic. As a coach, his ethos has always been that rugby should be fun.

He is internationally recognised as one of the best backs coaches in the world.

"From underage through to the senior ranks, Joe created a buzz in Mullingar Rugby Club that hasn't been replaced for the last sixteen years." Peter said that Schmidt "never forgets" the people he met and worked with in Mullingar between 1991 and 1993, and the Leinster coach-in-waiting still keeps in touch with the town and its people.

A qualified teacher, Schmidt coached in his native New Zealand before moving to Clermont.

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