Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) CEO Philip Browne hailed Joe Schmidt for providing “historic moments of great joy” after the New Zealander announced he will leave his role as Ireland’s head coach following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Schmidt will step away from coaching to spend more time with his family, with defence coach Andy Farrell set to step up as his successor.
Under Schmidt, who was named World Rugby’s Coach of the Year on Sunday, Ireland have won three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2018.
They have also recorded their first wins over New Zealand, a maiden victory in South Africa and a series triumph in Australia, as well as rising to second in the world rankings.
“I would like to thank Joe, and his family, on behalf of the IRFU Union Committee, all the staff of Irish Rugby and every rugby supporter, for everything he has done for the game in Ireland,” said Browne.
“Sport has the ability to lift people out of the day-to-day concerns of life and Joe, and his team, have provided historic moments of great joy, that will live long in the memories of everyone in the rugby family.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 25, 2018
“Of course, this is not yet the end, and we look forward to an exciting and challenging 11 months for Irish Rugby during Joe’s final Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“On a personal level, I would like to thank Joe for his warmth, his time, honesty and his genuine interest in everything that we do in Irish Rugby to grow the game.”
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Schmidt’s all-round impact was hailed by Browne and IRFU performance director David Nucifora, who added: “Joe’s contribution to Irish rugby is broader than just the success achieved with the national team. He has had a hugely positive influence on the entire professional system with both his rugby intellect and his eagerness to invest in and develop both players and coaches throughout the country.”
Nucifora revealed Farrell has agreed a contract to run beyond the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have a coach of the calibre of Andy Farrell in Irish Rugby,” he added. “He has proven through his work ethic and success with Ireland and the [British and Irish] Lions over the last number of years that he is the person to take Irish Rugby forward after RWC 2019.
“The close working relationship that our current coaching group have and what they will continue to gain over the next year with Joe still at the helm leaves Andy and Irish Rugby in the enviable position of having continuity before building the road forward.
“This appointment provides certainty and continuity beyond RWC19 with Andy leading the coaching group through the next World Cup cycle to the 2023 tournament in France. The coaching group are contracted beyond next year’s World Cup which again provides continuity for the players ahead of the 2020 Six Nations Championship.”
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