Joe Schmidt was born in the Far North of New Zealand in 1965, the third of eight children of a district nurse and a postmaster. As a young man, he played on the wing for Manawatu in the National Provincial Championship, and worked as a schoolteacher, administrator and coach at schools around the North Island - and, for a year and a half, in Co. Westmeath.
After making a name for himself as an innovative schools rugby coach, he worked as an assistant coach with Bay of Plenty, the Auckland Blues in Super Rugby, and Clermont-Auvergne. In 2010 he became head coach of Leinster, where he won two Heineken Cups in three seasons. As Ireland coach from 2013 to 2019, he achieved unprecedented success, including three Six Nations championships in six seasons, and was World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2018.
He and his wife Kelly have four children, and live in Dublin.