Rugby

Joe Schmidt Hits Back At World Rugby Vice-President Over Toner Omission

Joe Schmidt Hits Back At World Rugby Vice-President Over Toner Omission

Joe Schmidt has responded to a comment by World Rugby vice-president Agustin Pichot regarding Devin Toner's omission from the Ireland World Cup squad.

Toner was left out of the 31-man squad which was named on Monday with the South African-born Jean Kleyn selected ahead of the Leinster second row.

Kleyn only qualified to play for Ireland days before he made his debut last month against Italy. He qualified under the old three-year residency rule.

Pichot tweeted that if he was Toner, he would be looking for answers from World Rugby.

"Gus Pichot had a big opinion about who should be number one as well," Schmidt said at a press conference on Tuesday.

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"I think he has a number of big opinions but they're not ones which are relevant for us.

"What is relevant for us: Under the laws of the game, we're entitled to pick guys who have qualified.

"Considering he's involved in World Rugby, he could have a look at what the rules were and maybe not have so much to say. For us, it's tough enough to do our job, it's tough enough for me to have a conversation as I did with Dev.

"In my time with Ireland, the qualification involvement (players who qualified under the residency rule) is six or seven per cent; the rest are homegrown guys who are domiciled here apart from two years when Johnny Sexton was used from Paris.

"If there was any question about the number of Irish people involved, then I'd be surprised when you match up those numbers.

"I'm not sure I'm the most qualified to comment because I'm a blow-in myself. I'll be blowing out soon enough. Gus Pichot has changed the rules and those [new] rules will apply beyond this World Cup and they will apply as long as people feel that's the right residency rule.

"I would [not] question how much CJ Stander has done for his local environment, how much Bundee Aki has done for his local environment. They are domiciled here in Ireland and have been for a number of years. I'm not sure how long you have to contribute to a community and work hard in that community to be accepted.

"I was put under a lot of pressure when Bundee had his first game. A lot people wrote things but by the end of that first season he played for Ireland, he was named Supporters Player of the Year.

"The majority, maybe it's the silent majority, will get behind this squad."

Picture credit: Sportsfile

See Also: The Reasons To Leave Devin Toner Out Of The Ireland World Cup Squad

PJ Browne
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