Joe Schmidt to step down after World Cup 2019 with Andy Farrell named next Ireland rugby boss
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Joe Schmidt to step down after World Cup 2019 with Andy Farrell named next Ireland rugby boss

JOE Schmidt is to step down as Ireland's head coach after Rugby World Cup 2019 and will be replaced by current defence coach Andy Farrell.

Schmidt, 53, said he had decided to finish coaching and focus on family commitments having enjoyed wild success since taking charge of Ireland in 2013, following a stint with Leinster.

In Schmidt's five years as head coach, Ireland have won three Six Nations Championships – including the Grand Slam this summer – and have arguably become the single strongest international side in the northern hemisphere.

Only yesterday, the New Zealand native was named World Rugby Coach of the Year 2018.

The IRFU confirmed the news of his upcoming departure this morning, confirming ex-England international Farrell will become head coach after next year's tournament.

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In a statement, Schmidt said: "I feel that Irish rugby is in good hands. The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home in the Aviva, but where ever we have travelled has been uplifting.

"There are some inspiring challenges over the next 11 months so there's plenty of motivation for me to continue working hard, alongside the other management staff, so that the team can be as competitive as possible."

In a big night for Irish rugby on Sunday, Ireland were named Team of the Year while fly-half Johnny Sexton was named World Rugby Player of the Year.

In doing so, Sexton becomes only the second Irishman in history to receive the award after legendary hooker Keith Wood in 2001.

The awards capped a triumphant month for the squad, which included Ireland's first ever home win against the All Blacks.

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Farrell, whose son Owen has 63 caps for England, thanked the IRFU for the "privilege to be considered for such a prestigious role".

The 43-year-old said: "I have learned a lot from Joe over the past few seasons 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.”

David Nucifora, IRFU performance director, added: "Joe’s contribution to Irish rugby is broader than just the success achieved with the national team.

"He has had a hugely positive influence on the entire professional system with both his rugby intellect and his eagerness to invest in and develop both players and coaches throughout the country.

"We are all clearly aware and thankful of the better place that Joe will be leaving Irish Rugby in post the Rugby World Cup."