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RugbyU: Ireland pick Schmidt as new head coach

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Monday said they had appointed New Zealand's Joe Schmidt to the job of Ireland head coach as replacement for the sacked Declan Kidney.

Schmidt will leave his role as Leinster head coach to succeed Kidney, who was dismissed earlier this month after Ireland finished fifth in the Six Nations tournament.

The IRFU, which announced the appointment on its website irishrugby.ie, selected Schmidt, a two-time European Cup-winning coach, ahead of Les Kiss and Ewen McKenzie, who were also candidates.

No further details were given but the federation said a news conference was scheduled for 4:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Monday.

Schmidt is thought to have been offered a three-year contract that runs until 2016 and includes the 2015 World Cup hosted by England.

Last year he signed a new deal at Leinster until 2014 but the IRFU decided he was the right man to revitalise Irish rugby.

Jake White, Conor O'Shea and Mark McCall ruled themselves out of the running to replace Kidney, who steered Ireland to the 2009 Grand Slam but saw the team's fortunes nosedive.

One of the key areas for Schmidt to address will be Ireland's inconsistent form over the last two years.

He will also continue the injury-enforced rebuilding program begun by Kidney last year, while convincing talismanic centre Brian O'Driscoll to play for another season may also be on the agenda.

Kiss, Ireland's attack coach under Kidney, will lead the forthcoming tour to the United States and Canada, so the November internationals against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand will be Schmidt's first matches in charge.

Schmidt guided Leinster to the 2011 and 2012 European Cups after coming to the club from French side Clermont where, as assistant to Vern Cotter, he helped win their first ever French title in 2010.

This season he has kept Leinster on target for a Celtic League and European Challenge Cup double.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130429/rugbyu-ireland-pick-schmidt-new-head-coach