NZ's Schmidt signs new Ireland deal

2015-07-22 20:05
Joe Schmidt (Getty Images)

London - Joe Schmidt has signed a contract extension that will see the New Zealander remain as head coach of Ireland until at least June 2017, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday.

Schmidt was appointed to the job in 2013 and Ireland have since won back-to-back Six Nations titles, as well as climbing to third place in rugby union's official world rankings.

The 49-year-old also oversaw wins against South Africa and Australia last season and came within a last-minute score of beating his native New Zealand in 2013 - something no Ireland side has managed in more than a hundred years of trying.

In all, Ireland have won 14 of their 18 Tests under Schmidt and their form has made them one of Europe's standard-bearers at this year's World Cup in England, which starts in September.

Anything less than a semi-final spot - something Ireland have yet to achieve at a World Cup - would be regarded as a disappointment for an Ireland side whose pool also features France, Italy, Canada and Romania.

Schmidt, who prior to taking the Ireland job enjoyed domestic and European success with Irish provincial side Leinster, said of his contract extension: "I appreciate the support I have had from the IRFU and look forward to the next two challenging years with the national team.

"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."

The IRFU made the announcement about Schmidt's deal just over a fortnight out from their opening World Cup warm-up game against Wales in Cardiff.

"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," IRFU performance director David Nucifora said.

"Outside of his national team duties, Joe has contributed to the development of indigenous coaches across the provincial and under-age structures, as well as having a positive input into the Ireland Under-20 and Women's squads."

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne added: "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 is a tremendous ambassador for our game and will continue to be a vital asset to Irish rugby over the coming years."

Schmidt's success with Ireland has made him one of the leading contenders to coach the combined British and Irish Lions who are set to play the All Blacks in three Tests during their 2017 tour of New Zealand.

Read more on:    ireland  |  joe schmidt  |  rugby

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