Warren Gatland's tenure in charge of Ireland will be remembered for guiding Ireland to victory over France in Paris for the first time in 29 years; however, losing to Argentina in the 1999 Rugby World Cup play-off game, and his fractious relationship with his then assistant coach, Eddie O'Sullivan will always be part of his lasting legacy.
The Wales coach was a special guest at Newstalks Off The Ball Rugby Roadshow last week and although rugby was in its infancy in terms of professionalism, the IRFU made themselves look to be amateurs in their dealings with their former head coach.
Underpinning part of Gatland's frustration was the fact that he would be summoned to IRFU headquarters every Wednesday to review the weekend's game, only to find that members of the board were yet to watch the video of the match. He told a scarcely believable story from the notorious meetings,
We were doing reviews at the time and I found it frustrating that every Wednesday after a game and you go into the IFRU offices and you would meet around a table and you would be talking to guys who hadn’t watched the video hadn’t seen the game, they were talking about their own experiences as players from 20 years ago. I found it incredibly frustrating for a coach reviewing stuff.
Incredible that a 'professional' sporting organisation could be operating under these conditions, yet you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a tale from a Ross O'Carroll Kelly novel, 'they were talking about their own experiences as players from 20 years ago,' roysh!
Another disheartening aspect for the New Zealander was having to report to the committee every Friday before a game, to ratify his selection, before outlining his game plan to the men in blazers,
It was absolutely ridiculous, you would go in on a Friday and there would be someone from the committee and they would ask: ‘What’s your game plan tomorrow, are you playing a rucking game or a continuity game?' [Laughing] I don’t even understand that question . . . and then the committee guys are like: ‘What are you expecting from your 15? What are you expecting from your nine?’ Oh my god what am I dealing with here and it was incredibly frustrating from a coaching point of view.
Rugby declared itself as professional in 1995 yet the IRFU committee was in place during the tenure's of Eddie O'Sullivan and Declan Kidney, right up until the appointment of Joe Schmidt in 2012-13.
Listen to Warren Gatland speak of his Irish tenure here.