Having led Leinster to back to back Heineken Cup finals in his first two seasons in charge, Joe Schmidt was rewarded for his own success as he scooped the ‘Coach of the Year’ award at the RaboDirect Pro12 awards in Cardiff.
Schmidt, who has also guided Leinster into a home semi-final in the Pro12 against Glasgow this coming Saturday, deflected any personal praise and instead chose to praise the collective effort that has seen Leinster grow into the European heavyweight of recent seasons.
Speaking after collecting his award Schmidt, talking to ercrugby.com said “it was great to see Leo Cullen pick up the Fair Play Award for Leinster, and Johnny Sexton win the Golden Boot, but these trophies don’t mean nearly as much as the team’s performance, which we are all driven to deliver,” said Schmidt.
“It’s neat to get it, but it’s all about the collective and, hopefully, there can be a successful couple of weeks ahead for us. It was ironic that the other two guys who were up for this award were Sean Lineen, who we come up against this weekend, and then Brian McLaughlin.
“Brian is a super fella and I’ve got to go up against him the following weekend in the Heineken Cup final. I am a little bit overawed by the company I am in, especially as I’m following in the footsteps of Tony McGahan, who has done such a good job with Munster.
“I’ve got a great bunch of players to work with and Leinster is a great breeding ground at the moment. The Academy is working hard to produce players and that is making my job easier.
“We also have a great back room staff with great conditioning and medical staff. Then the other coaches, Jonno Gibbes, Greg Feek and Richie Murphy, are all doing great jobs, which means I’m the lucky benefactor of a lot of people’s efforts.
“We hopefully have three big weeks ahead of us, and we would love to win both competitions, but we are existing from week to week. We haven’t made any ambitious statements other than hoping to be in front on the scoreboard against Glasgow on Saturday.
“Once we’ve got that out of the way we will look ahead to the Heineken Cup final.”