Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is being lined up for a high profile position with World Rugby, with the governing body keen to bring the New Zealander on board in a brand new role. Schmidt is reportedly World Rugby’s first choice for the newly created role of ‘Director of Rugby and High Performance’.

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According to the Sunday Times, the position would oversee “the management of match officials, interacting with coaches on law implementation and helping to drive high performance in emerging rugby nations.”

The Sunday Times report states: “A shortlist was drawn up in recent weeks and sources say that Schmidt, who has been engaged in consultancy work since finishing as Ireland coach last autumn, is high on that list. It is hoped that an appointment will be made by mid-September.

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“The need for such a role undoubtedly comes as a result of declining refereeing standards and especially the number of contentious decisions at last year’s Rugby World Cup, and the general inconsistency in the application of the ‘high tackle framework’.”

It will come as no surprise that World Rugby are keen to recruit Schmidt. He was part of the specialist ‘breakdown group’ which led to some of the rule changes that have proved beneficial to Super Rugby Aotearoa, and he also spoke at World Rugby’s player welfare symposium in Paris earlier this year.

As a New Zealander who has spent much of his life based in Europe, he also understands both the northern and southern hemisphere approaches to the game.

Despite stepping down as Ireland head coach following last year’s Rugby World Cup, Schmidt is still based in Ireland, another attractive prospect for World Rugby, who have offices in Dublin.

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Schmidt also commands massive influence as one of the most decorated coaches of the last decade.

He was assistant coach at Clermont Auvergne when they won the Top14 in 2010. Schmidt then moved to Leinster and won a Pro12 title, two European Cups and a Challenge Cup as head coach.

Schmidt was appointed Ireland head coach in 2013, where again he kick-started an unprecedented era of success.

Under his tenure, Ireland won three Six Nations and a Grand Slam, and recorded historic wins against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

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He was named World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2018.

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