Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will leave the union at the end of next year’s Rugby World Cup, confirming Andy Farrell as his replacement in the process.
The announcement follows months of speculation over the New Zealander’s future after an unprecedented year of success for the nation’s rugby, which saw the team wrap up a Six Nations Grand Slam, a first Test series win in Australia since 1979, and a maiden victory over the All Blacks on home soil.
Cementing second-ranked Ireland’s place as the foremost challengers to the All Blacks in Japan, Schmidt said it had been an ‘uplifting’ experience as coach of Ireland.
“I feel that Irish rugby is in good hands,” said Schmidt.
“The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home in the Aviva, but where ever we have travelled, has been uplifting.”
Schmidt has been in charge of Ireland since leaving Leinster for the head coach post in 2013.
Next year’s World Cup will conclude a cycle that has seen Ireland become a force of northern hemisphere rugby. Done so after a disappointing exit at the showpiece event in England three years ago when they lost to Argentina in the quarter-finals.
And Schmidt will hand the reins over to defence mastermind Andy Farrell who has proven to hold methods that have been the undoing of the All Blacks, having held them tryless at the Aviva Stadium in the 16-9 win this autumn.
On becoming head coach at the end of 2019, the former Saracens coach said: “It is a privilege to be considered for such a prestigious role.
“I have learned a lot from Joe over the past few seasons and I will continue to learn from him over the next year as the coaching group and players focus on competing in two huge tournaments in 2019.”
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