Tuesday 22 October 2019

IRFU on guard over Joe Schmidt as England target coach with 'international experience'

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

Ruadhri O'Connor

The IRFU are on guard for an English approach for head coach Joe Schmidt after Stuart Lancaster was finally relieved of his duties by the RFU yesterday as a result of the hosts' disastrous World Cup campaign.

The English union have signalled their intent to install a coach with international experience as their new head coach, which narrows the field significantly and appears to rule out Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea and almost every home-grown coach available to them.

While World Cup winner Jake White and former Australia coach Eddie Jones are likely to be top of the wish-list, Schmidt (left) has been heavily linked with the post.

He has distanced himself from that role and has said that he will not leave his current position as Ireland supremo until his contract is up in 2017 at the earliest.

As the world’s richest union the RFU may try and turn his head by making him an offer he can’t refuse.

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England chief executive Ian Ritchie said: “We’re looking for a head coach with international experience. Speed is important, but the right person is even more important. It doesn’t rule out a foreign coach, it doesn’t rule out an English coach. The nationality is not important, getting the right coach is important.

“This is still one of the biggest jobs in world rugby coaching. The resources we put behind the head coach is significant, there’s a group of talented players that the head coach has to work with.”

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If Schmidt, as expected, remains with Ireland he’ll have a familiar face in charge of his Six Nations opener against Wales after Jerome Garces got the nod to referee the Aviva Stadium clash. The French official took charge of Ireland’s World Cup games against Italy and Argentina.

Jaco Peyper will be in the middle when Ireland meet France in Paris, Romain Poite will officiate the Ireland v England game in Dublin, Australian Angus Gardner will have the whistle for Ireland v Italy and Pascal Gauzere will take Ireland’s final game against Scotland.

Meanwhile, Munster will have to do without winger Gerhard van den Heever for their first two Champions Cup games against Treviso and Stade Francais after he received a two-week ban for a dangerous tackle against Edinburgh last weekend.

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