Joe Schmidt commits to Ireland until 2019 RWC

1:05 PM GMT

Joe Schmidt will continue in his role as Ireland head coach through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The news comes as a huge boost for Irish rugby with Schmidt regarded as one of the top coaches in the world.

Having taken on the Ireland job in 2013 after a spell of success with Leinster, he led Ireland to Six Nations championships in 2014 and 2015.

“I’d like to thank the IRFU for their patience and confidence as the decision to continue took somewhat longer than I’d anticipated,” Schmidt said. “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 Ireland.

“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.

“The wider community has made us welcome and as a family we have benefitted immensely from their support.”

The news ends speculation over Schmidt’s future with him previously being linked with a return to New Zealand.

He will now focus on leading Ireland through to the next World Cup and the immediate task of tackling New Zealand (twice), Australia and Canada in November.

Philip Browne, IRFU CEO, said: “The IRFU is delighted to confirm that Joe will continue through to the next World Cup. Since coming to Ireland he has made a huge contribution to Irish rugby at provincial and national level and also actively supports our clubs across the four provinces.”

David Nucifora, IRFU performance director, added: “Joe is one of the leading coaches in world rugby and it is fantastic for Irish rugby that he has committed until the end of the World Cup cycle.

“We have a talented group of coaches and Joe has been central to attracting coaching talent and driving success with the national team.”

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