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Irish Rugby ready to cope with Schmidt exit as boss approaches decision, ensures CEO


Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

The IRFU do not believe the future success of the Irish team will hinge solely upon whether influential head coach Joe Schmidt stays on beyond next year's World Cup.

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And chief executive Philip Browne and performance director David Nucifora believe Ireland's international success will continue regardless of whether the head coach remains in his position after the tournament.

The union were able to convince Schmidt to remain when it looked like he might return to New Zealand in 2017 and the lure of home is thought to be the main consideration for the former Leinster supremo who has lived in Europe since 2007 and in Ireland since 2010.


The duo were speaking at the launch of the union's strategic plan which outlined the goal of reaching the semi-final in Japan and in France in 2023, while also winning two Six Nations titles during the next five seasons.

The IRFU expect Schmidt to inform them of his decision over his future after the November internationals. His contract expires after the World Cup concludes in a just over a year's time.

Asked if the IRFU would make Schmidt an offer he couldn't refuse, Browne said: "I thought we did that the last time!

"He's done a fantastic job and it's not just about Joe, it's about the people he has gathered around him, as a collective - both in terms of the team management and their interaction with the high performance department and their interaction with the provinces, and the quality of coaching and personnel that are now in the provinces.

"It is a collective and at times people, certainly outside of Irish rugby, don't understand that and Joe is an important part of that collective and has done a fantastic job.

"At the end of the day, David is having conversations with Joe until he makes up his mind and we will be thinking about it once the November internationals are under the belt.

"My father, in his wisdom, used to say graveyards are full of people who thought they were indispensable.

"The reality is the plan can't be built around one person, it has to be built around systems, processes and structures."

Nucifora echoed Browne's assertion that the show will go on regardless of Schmidt's intentions.

"A lot of the success is down to Joe, he's driven a lot of really good things in the Irish game and not just with the national team," the Australian said.

"Part of his strength is that he's built a team that can carry those things on, that can carry them forward.

"Any good programme has to be sustainable. A lot of the work that we do is about that, about being sustainable.

"And regardless of whether Joe chooses to stay or go, he'd be the first one to tell you that he's confident that it is sustainable.

"We've built something that is sustainable and we will be continuing to focus on that."

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