'Say it ain't so, Joe': Tributes pour in as Schmidt announces departure as head coach

'Say it ain't so, Joe': Tributes pour in as Schmidt announces departure as head coach

Tributes have been pouring in for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt who has announced he'll step away from coaching after the 2019 World Cup.

Ireland's most successful head coach announced his decision "to finish coaching and prioritise family commitments" the morning after winning the World Rugby Coach of the Year award. He'll be replaced by defence coach Andy Farrell.

"He's done a remarkable job. He just leaves no stone unturned," Alan Quinlan told OTB AM.

"You can never replace someone like him but Andy Farrell has been in the system for the last couple of years with Joe Schmidt and he'll have learned a lot. I'd be very comfortable and pleased with that succession plan.

"He gave his time very generously to a lot of communities and clubs. If you asked people to come in and tell stories about where he's been, you'd be amazed at the amount he's done. He's been phenomenal for Irish sport.

"The principles of coaching, structures, everybody could learn from this guy."

Former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan told Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One: "His success rate has been huge. At this point in time, he stands at 74% success. It's extraordinary.

"The fact he was able to work within the system here, that he was very successful with a great Leinster team, won two European Championships, and then was able to come in. He has used the Irish system really well in managing the resources we have very well.

"He's got the most out of the talent we have. The Irish rugby system is working and he's had the skillset at the top to get full value out of that."

Schmidt's successor Farrell said: "It is a privilege to be considered for such a prestigious role. 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."

Philip Browne, IRFU CEO, commented, "I would like to thank Joe, and his family, on behalf of the IRFU Union Committee, all the staff of Irish Rugby and every rugby supporter, for everything he has done for the game in Ireland.

"Joe has travelled to clubs throughout the country, assisted with our sponsor programme and attended a huge number of charity events, helping to raise vital funding for those who need it most.

"Sport has the ability to lift people out of the day-to-day concerns of life and Joe, and his team, have provided historic moments of great joy, that will live long in the memories of everyone in the rugby family.

"On a personal level, I would like to thank Joe for his warmth, his time, honesty and his genuine interest in everything that we do in Irish Rugby to grow the game."

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."

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