Andy Farrell to replace Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after World Cup

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, right, with defence coach Andy Farrell. Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will leave his role after the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and will be replaced by defence coach Andy Farrell, the Irish Rugby Federation announced on Monday.

Schmidt has been in charge of Ireland since 2013 but is expected to return to home to New Zealand once his contact expires following the tournament in Japan next year, citing family reasons.

Under Schmidt, Ireland have won three Six Nations titles, reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup and have beaten New Zealand twice, including for the first time in Dublin earlier this month, as they firmly established themselves as the northern hemisphere's leading side.

"I have decided to finish coaching and will prioritise family commitments after the RWC in 2019," said Schmidt, who was named World Rugby's Coach of the Year on Sunday.

"There are some inspiring challenges over the next 11 months so there's plenty of motivation for me to continue working hard, alongside the other management staff, so that the team can be as competitive as possible."

Farrell, who joined Ireland's coaching group in 2016 following three seasons with England, was instrumental as Ireland shut-out the All Blacks in Dublin and the Englishman has built up a reputation as the world's leading defence coach in recent years. The former dual-code international also helped coach the British & Irish Lions to a series win against Australia in 2013 and a series draw against New Zealand in 2017.

"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," Farrell said.

"Andy has made a big impact since coming into the group," Schmidt added. "His ability to lead and his understanding of the game will ensure that the group will continue to move forward."

Ireland begin their Six Nations defence against England in February before they travel to Japan for the World Cup in September, where they have been drawn in Pool A with hosts Japan, Scotland, Russia and Samoa.

Ireland won their first Six Nations titles under Schmidt in 2014 and 2015 before they defeated England at Twickenham to win the the Grand Slam earlier this year. Schmidt has also led Ireland to a first win in South Africa, a first win over New Zealand and a first series win in Australia.

Schmidt was defeated by Argentina in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup in 2015, as Ireland attempted to reach their first-ever World Cup semifinal. The Irish will be expected to go one step further in Japan next year and are favourites to win the competition along with the All Blacks, who they could meet in the final next November.