He’s the most in-demand coach on the planet and his decision to seemingly turn his back on an All Blacks coaching role has sent shockwaves through world rugby.
But many people don’t know the heartbreaking reason behind Joe Schmidt’s decision to “prioritise family commitments” once he steps down as coach of Ireland after next year’s World Cup in Japan.
Schmidt’s decision to “prioritise family commitments” cannot be dismissed, as his son, Luke, has battled a brain tumour since age four and suffers from epilepsy. Luke needed a nine-hour operation at the age of six to remove the tumour.
53-year-old Schmidt, born in Kawaka, Northland, is part of the Be Seizure Aware Campaign and recently told the Manawatu Standard “that sort of put rugby in perspective”.
The value he placed in being close to world-class London-based neurological care is one major reason Schmidt turned down multiple approaches from New Zealand Rugby to return home.
The last occasion is thought to be to replace Wayne Smith last year, before re-signing with Ireland.