Schmidt v Razor: Do the Wallabies have a better coach?

Publish Date
Sunday, 21 January 2024, 5:48PM

By Will Toogood

With news breaking that former All Blacks attack coach Joe Schmidt will be taking the reins of the Wallabies, the coaching match-up for the Scott Robertson All Blacks and their transtasman foe is set.

Like a boxing title fight, the tale of the tape gives fans an idea of what advantages either side has over the other before the bell rings, or in this case, before the whistle blows.

So who is the better coach? Robertson or Schmidt? This piece aims to use categorical analysis to answer that question.

International experience
Schmidt was at the helm of Ireland for 76 tests and had a winning record of 72.37 per cent while winning almost every trophy available - while Robertson’s experience at international level is limited to stints as coach of Brazil, the Barbarians and New Zealand Under-20 sides.

The edge therefore goes to Schmidt in this category.

Knowledge of players
Having worked with the Crusaders for seven seasons gives Razor an extensive knowledge of not only those players but the entire New Zealand Super Rugby Pacific pool from which he will be selecting his All Blacks.

Schmidt’s recent experience with the All Blacks and Blues gives him a unique advantage as Wallabies coach, even more so than Robbie Deans or Dave Rennie in the past - who had been removed from the New Zealand system for some time before joining the Wallabies.

Robertson gets his first points on the board.

Playing career
Twenty-nine games for Manawatū should not be taken lightly, plus a handful of lower league matches on a gap year to Ireland have Schmidt with a decent background of playing days.

Robertson has 86 matches for the Crusaders and 23 caps for the All Blacks.

No contest, really. Point for Razor.

What they have to work with
New Zealand’s talent is currently superior to Australia’s and has been for some time. There wouldn’t be too many arguments on either side of the Tasman with that, surely.

Schmidt will have the challenge of not only working with a group of players who were unceremoniously dumped from the Rugby World Cup at the pool stage, but a national talent pool that is currently embroiled in a code war with rugby league.

Robertson’s job isn’t a great deal easier. Yes, he takes over the Rugby World Cup finalists, but it’s a group that has lost a number of experienced campaigners in key positions. The first five position alone is a serious question that needs answering.

Both situations present an opportunity for the coaches to unearth some new blood and put their talent identification on display. Robertson gets the biscuits.

Robertson’s biggest critics would say he has had a comfortable existence as coach of Canterbury and the Crusaders, while the same could not be said for Schmidt. Having coached and won in Ireland, France and New Zealand displays an ability to adapt to a new environment that will stand him in good stead as he heads across the ditch. Point to Schmidt.

An interesting discussion point - Robertson’s seven consecutive Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders is unlikely to be repeated. Add to that the two provincial championships as coach of Canterbury and you have one of the greatest domestic coaching records in the history of the sport.

Schmidt is a three-time Six Nations winner as well as a Grand Slam winner in 2018. Two Heineken Cups are not to be scoffed at either and he was also named Coach of the Year in what was a silverware-laden 2018 for Schmidt.

Too close to call, we will have a decider in the Bledisloe Cup later this year.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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