Dublin - Joe
Schmidt will continue as Ireland coach on his current contract up until
the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the Irish Rugby Football
Union said on Monday.
The IRFU issued a statement confirming the coach's continued
involvement just 12 days before Ireland's end-of-year Test series opener
against Schmidt's native New Zealand in Chicago.
Schmidt, previously in charge of Irish province Leinster, took charge of the Ireland national team in November 2013.
He guided Ireland to successive Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015, as well as away wins over South Africa and Argentina.
But there have been questions over whether Schmidt was seeking a return to New Zealand.
In the IRFU statement the 51-year-old Schmidt said: "I would like to
thank the IRFU for their patience and confidence, as the decision to
continue took somewhat longer than I'd anticipated.
"It is difficult at times being so far away from extended family, but
we appreciate how lucky we are to have the support we have here in
"The strength of the rugby community has been incredibly visible over
the past week, and the enthusiasm of management and players to improve
and compete is complemented by a really positive camaraderie."
IRFU performance director David Nucifora called Schmidt "one of the leading coaches in world rugby".
"We have a talented group of coaches and Joe has been central to
attracting coaching talent and driving success with the national team,"