Schmidt confirmed as the new Ireland Head Coach
Published 29/04/2013 | 05:00
The IRFU have announced that Joe Schmidt will replace Declan Kidney as Ireland's new Head Coach.
Announcing the appointment IRFU CEO Philip Browne, said: "The IRFU is delighted to announce Joe Schmidt as Ireland Team Coach following a process which, in the best interests of Irish rugby, allowed us to examine a variety of options and ultimately ensure we secured a world-class coach and undoubtedly the ideal person for the position.
"Joe has already delivered significant success to Irish rugby during his time with Leinster and we are confident that this will continue at international level.
"We thank all of those who were involved in this appointment, particularly our colleagues in Leinster, for allowing us the time and space to meet with and ultimately appoint Joe as Ireland Coach."
Joe Schmidt said: "It's an honour to be selected as the Ireland Team Coach. I'm very conscious of the responsibilities that go with the position and look forward to working alongside the players in an effort to meet those responsibilities through the quality of our performance.
"I certainly appreciate the prompt and professional handling of the selection process by the IRFU, especially with regard to my current coaching commitment in Leinster, which I will continue to prioritise over the coming weeks."
Speaking about the appointment of Schmidt today, Irish Independent rugby columnist Tony Ward said: "The best news possible. The word at the weekend was that there was likely to be an announcement today.
"I'm delighted it has happened sooner rather than later from every point of view.
"Certainly from an Irish perspective, we have the best man, in the best position, at the right time.
"The brand of rugby that Leinster have produced has excited, as well as won over the hearts and minds of people everywhere over the last three seasons.
"Now, we've got an Ireland team hopefully going to follow suit. I think he's got the people, the personnel to do it with. It's win-win all round, a good day for Irish rugby."
Schmidt succeeds Declan Kidney who was removed on April 2 after presiding over a dismal fifth-place finish in the RBS 6 Nations.
The New Zealander steps up from his position as Leinster head coach after beating competition from Les Kiss and Ewen McKenzie for the Ireland post.
Schmidt is thought to have been offered a three-year contract that runs until 2016 - a tenure that will include the 2015 World Cup hosted by England.
Only last year he had signed a new deal at Leinster securing his services until 2014, but the IRFU has decided to promote him to the top job in Irish rugby.
A highly impressive CV compiled over three years at the reigning European champions is topped by successive Heineken Cup crowns.
This season they are on target for a RaboDirect PRO12 and Amlin Challenge Cup double.
Kiss, Ireland's attack coach under Kidney, will lead the summer tour to the United States and Canada, so the autumn internationals against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand will be Schmidt's first matches in charge.
Schmidt spent yesterday identifying and contacting potential candidates for his Ireland coaching team.
He is expected to sign a three-year contract taking him to the 2015 World Cup and the following Six Nations campaign.
Schmidt will see Leinster through to the end of the season and will travel to North America and Canada to take in Ireland's two Tests in June.
It is understood that Kiss may be kept on by Schmidt as defence coach in the new regime, but it is not expected that either Smal or Foley, who is co-opted from Munster, will be involved in Schmidt's new administration.
Schmidt has been the standout candidate for the position since it was made known Kidney was not going to be offered a contract up to the World Cup. Les Kiss and Ewen McKenzie were also interviewed for the job, while Jake White turned down the chance.
The position was always going to be Schmidt's to turn down, though, even allowing for his sometimes fraught relationship with the IRFU. He is also the only contender with any chance of convincing Brian O'Driscoll to delay his retirement from international rugby.
Schmidt said over the weekend he hoped the IRFU would make a decision soon and they are expected to make his appointment official today.
"I know you guys are frustrated, it's the same for me," he said. "Just for the clarity for Leinster, even then, if there is something decisive, I have to get the clearance from Leinster. I have got to say that they have been incredibly encouraging. I think they're trying to get things done pretty soon."
Of course, Schmidt's elevation leaves Leinster short-handed. It has been reported that they have already identified their preferred replacement in Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor, a 42-year-old Australian international who is second in command to Richard Cockerill at the Tigers.