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Rugby | International Rugby

Old mentor Schmidt teaches Pumas rival Ledesma the ropes

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has been handing out tips to Argentina counterpart Mario Ledesma despite the two old friends going head-to-head in a November test match clash on Saturday.

Ledesma, a hooker for Clermont when Schmidt was assistant coach at the French club, has already claimed two big scalps since he assumed the reins of the Pumas in August.

They recorded their first win over Australia 'Down Under' since 1983 and also beat South Africa, playing some thrilling rugby with a vibrant backline catching the eye.

Ledesma, who made his name in coaching as Wallabies scrum coach when they reached the 2015 World Cup final, met up with Schmidt on Thursday and said that over a beer or two, the 53-year-old New Zealander had passed on some tips.

"I've been all over the place and he's been winning everywhere," said Ledesma.

"It was really good to see him. He's the same and that's the good thing about him. It was really good to meet him and pick his brain a little bit.

"Not about the way they play or prepare, but about the feedback and how he plans the week or the season."


Ledesma, who went from the Australia job to coach Argentinian Super Rugby franchise Jaguares, said as a rookie national head coach he could take all the advice he could get.

"It's really interesting as a young head coach," he said. "You try to get whatever you can from successful coaches like Joe."

Schmidt had said on Thursday that when he was at Clermont he had always thought 45-year-old Ledesma would make a good coach.

Ledesma, who showed he was willing to take tough calls early on by installing Pablo Matera as Pumas captain, replacing long-time skipper Agustin Creevy, said he wasn't surprised Schmidt had left him alone to be with the forwards.

"I was a bit of a nuisance as a player," he said. "If I had many of me in my team I would be struggling!

"But it was a little bit like that, and even when Vern (Cotter, the head coach) was there he tried to give us that responsibility.

"He would plan the whole thing, but let us do things too. Then maybe correct bits."

Ledesma, though, said there was one thing that he did not recognise in the Schmidt of today from the Clermont days.

"When I heard he was really ruthless as a head coach I was surprised because he wasn't like that as an attack coach."

However, Ledesma acknowledged there is a world of difference between being an assistant and stepping up to the top post.

"In front of the players you have to be ruthless, as an assistant you don’t have to be, but as head coach, he is the boss," he said.

"I tried to be really tough as an assistant and I wasn't very good."

Ledesma remained poker-faced when told Schmidt had said he thought he would have a clever plan for Saturday's clash.

"Really? There is going to be something in the food tonight," he said.


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