Schmidt stays

DUBLIN – Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has signed a two-year contract extension to stay on until the end of the 2019 World Cup, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) said on Monday.

The New Zealander, who took over in 2013 after a successful spell at Irish province Leinster, led the country to back-to-back Six Nations titles in his first two years and reached the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup.

Ireland finished a disappointing third in this year’s Six Nations but won a test match for the first time in South Africa in a much improved tour in June.

“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 in a statement.

“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.”

Schmidt is among several native Kiwis, including current and former Six Nations rivals Vern Cotter and Warren Gatland, seen as potential successors to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen when his contract expires after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

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