Huge boost for Irish rugby as Joe Schmidt commits to 2017
'We believe that Joe is one of the leading coaches in world rugby'
Irish rugby has been given a huge boost with the news that Joe Schmidt has committed to Ireland until 2017.
The formality that was the contract extension was announced this afternoon by the IRFU.
The New Zealander, who takes his team into the World Cup warm up series on August 8th, against Wales in Cardiff, will continue as head coach until June 2017.
Negotiations on a new deal opened last season and the only impediment to Schmidt re-signing would have been his own decision to leave. His record with Ireland has been such that the IRFU were bending over backwards to keep him.
Since taking over from Declan Kidney in the summer of 2013 Ireland have played 20 Tests, winning 16, giving Schmidt an unrivalled 80 per cent record in the job. Ireland will go into the World Cup as back to back Six Nations champions with expectations of getting to the semi-final for the first time.
"I appreciate the support I have had from the IRFU and look forward to the next two challenging years with the National Team," the head coach said.
"It has been great to be involved in such a player driven environment, along with such a skilled and positive staff to support them in their quest to be as competitive as possible."
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The IRFU’s Performance Director, David Nucifora, expressed his pleasure at negotiations having been concluded:
“We believe that Joe is one of the leading coaches in world rugby so we are delighted that he has extended his contract and will continue to work in Irish Rugby until the end of the 2016/17 season,” he said.
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has delighted to be able to finally confirm the deal.
The days of long contract deals immediately ahead of World Cups are over. Before the 2007 tournament Eddie O’Sullivan was given an extension through to the event in France, four years later, but that went south after the Six Nations of 2008, whereupon he was replaced by Declan Kidney.
The only previous time the IRFU went with a long term deal was with Brian Ashton, at the start of the professional era. He was given a six year deal in 1997 but he resigned after just one disastrous season.
"Joe embodies the core values of the IRFU in what he does and his commitment to the national team is mirrored by his support of Rugby clubs and schools," he said.
"He is a tremendous ambassador for our game and will continue to be a vital asset to Irish Rugby over the coming years.”