Joe Schmidt will leave as Ireland coach after next year’s Rugby World Cup, and seemingly ruled out taking charge of his native New Zealand in the future by saying he was ending his coaching career to focus on his family.
A day after Schmidt was named coach of the year in the World Rugby awards, Ireland announced on Monday he would be quitting his post after six years in charge and be replaced by Andy Farrell, the current defense coach in Ireland’s backroom staff.
Schmidt has transformed Irish rugby since becoming coach of the national team in 2013, guiding it from eighth to a record-high second in the world ranking, and to the only victories over New Zealand in the team’s history — in Chicago in 2016 and in Dublin this month.
Ireland has also won three Six Nations under Schmidt — including a Grand Slam in 2018 — and a series win in Australia. It had a 12-game unbeaten run from March 2017 to March this year, and has an ongoing record 12-match winning run in home matches.
“Sport has the ability to lift people out of the day-to-day concerns of life,” said Philip Browne, chief executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union, “and Joe and his team have provided historic moments of great joy that will live long in the memories of everyone in the rugby family.”
Farrell joined the Ireland set-up in 2016, after leaving his role as defense coach for England after the previous year’s Rugby World Cup. This will be his first position as head coach of a club or country but he comes with a strong reputation, having also been defense coach of the British and Irish Lions in its series-winning tour of Australia in 2013 and the drawn series in New Zealand in ’17.
“I have learned a lot from Joe over the past few seasons,” Farrell said, “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.”
The 53-year-old Schmidt would have been a front-runner to take charge of the All Blacks, should current coach Steve Hansen quit after the World Cup. Hansen said he would announce his decision before Christmas.
However, Schmidt said: “I have decided to finish coaching and will prioritize family commitments after the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”
Ireland has won 46 of its 62 matches under Schmidt.