THE Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) have confirmed that Joe Schmidt has signed a new three-year extension to his contract as Ireland head coach.
Schmidt’s contract was due to expire next year but the extension will see the New Zealander take charge until the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.
In his reign as Ireland manager Schmidt has led his men to back-to-back Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015.
He has also overseen Ireland’s first Test series win in the southern hemisphere in Argentina back in 2014 and also their first victory against South Africa on the Springboks' turf at the end of the 2015-16 season.
In a statement, Philip Browne, IRFU Chief Executive, 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.”
Schmidt said that his decision was not always a straight-forward one, citing the distance between his extended family in New Zealand as a potential stumbling block.
He 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."
After a week of despair for Irish Rugby fans following the shock death of Anthony Foley, the news will come as a timely boost.