The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Monday said they had appointed New Zealand’s Joe Schmidt to the job of Ireland head coach as replacement for the sacked Declan Kidney.
Schmidt is to leave his role as Leinster head coach to succeed Kidney, who was dismissed earlier after Ireland finished fifth in the Six Nations tournament.
The IRFU, which announced the appointment on its Web site, selected Schmidt, a two-time European Cup-winning coach, ahead of Les Kiss and Ewen McKenzie, who were also candidates.
Schmidt is thought to have been offered a three-year contract that runs until 2016 and includes the 2015 World Cup hosted by England.
Last year he signed a new deal at Leinster until 2014, but the IRFU decided he was the right man to revitalize Irish rugby.
Jake White, Conor O’Shea and Mark McCall ruled themselves out of the running to replace Kidney, who steered Ireland to the 2009 Grand Slam.
One of the key areas for Schmidt to address will be Ireland’s inconsistent form over the past two years. He is also to continue the injury-enforced rebuilding program begun by Kidney last year, while convincing talismanic center Brian O’Driscoll to play for another season may also be on the agenda.
Kiss, Ireland’s attack coach under Kidney, is to lead the forthcoming tour to the US and Canada, so the November internationals against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand are to be Schmidt’s first matches in charge.
Schmidt guided Leinster to the 2011 and last year’s European Cups after coming to the club from French side Clermont where, as assistant to Vern Cotter, he helped win their first ever French title in 2010. This season he has kept Leinster on target for a Celtic League and European Challenge Cup double.