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Saturday 10 December 2016

Outlook may be All Black for Joe Schmidt after contract extension

Schmidt will be back on the market in summer of 2017

Ireland manager Joe Schmidt
Ireland manager Joe Schmidt

There is a nice, neat answer to why Joe Schmidt's contract has not been extended to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The word of rugby revolves around the four-year cycle that connects this World Cup to the next.

Therefore, it comes as something of an eye-opener that Schmidt and the IRFU will sit on a one year add-on to the initial three-year deal.

"I appreciate the support I have had from the IRFU and look forward to the next two challenging years with the national team," said Schmidt.

"It has been great to be involved in such a player-driven environment, along with such a skilled and positive staff to support them in their quest to be as competitive as possible."

In reality, this represents a minor extension of a major success story.

The IRFU must have moved heaven and earth to nail their man for as long as they could. All they have come up with is one more year.

The bitter experience from the previous long-term contracts with Brian Ashton and Eddie O'Sullivan did warrant consideration and would have been informative.

But the record of Schmidt is a long playing one that has created hit-upon hit, first for Leinster, now for this country.

Ireland are the proud owners of back-to-back Six Nations championships during his tenure and a world ranking of third.

For the moment, Schmidt will have his mind set on the World Cup and an unprecedented semi-final.

Thereafter, the possibility of Steve Hansen vacating the All Blacks at the end of his current contract and the prospect of The British & Irish Lions tour to NZ, both in the summer of 2017 stand as reasons for Schmidt to be open-minded about what he will do next.

"We believe that Joe is one of the leading coaches in world rugby.

"We are delighted that he has extended his contract and will continue to work in Irish rugby until the end of the 2016/17 season," said David Nucifora, the IRFU Performance Director.

Until then, the world will wait.

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