Joe Schmidt to stay on as Ireland coach until after 2019 World Cup

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt has committed his future as Ireland head coach until the end of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) made the announcement today, 12 days before Ireland's autumn series opener against New Zealand in Chicago.

New Zealander Schmidt took charge of Ireland in November 2013, since when he has masterminded back-to-back Six Nations titles, plus away victories over South Africa and Argentina.

In a statement released by the IRFU, 51-year-old Schmidt thanked the organisation for showing "patience and confidence."

Schmidt said: "I would like to thank the IRFU for their patience and confidence, as the decision to continue took somewhat longer than I'd anticipated.

"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.

"The strength of the rugby community has been incredibly visible over the past week, and the enthusiasm of management and players to improve and compete is complemented by a really positive camaraderie.

"The wider community has made us welcome, and as a family we have benefited immensely from their support.

"Looking forward, there are positive signs with the U20s, finalists at the Junior World Championships this year, the provinces topping three of the five European Champions Cup pools, as well as Ulster and Leinster sharing the lead of the PRO12 at present.

"With the Guinness series about to begin, facing a dominant New Zealand team, along with Canada and Australia, is going to be a tremendous challenge."

Under Schmidt, Ireland won the Six Nations in 2014 and 2015, claimed a Test series triumph in Argentina and latterly toppled the Springboks.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora added: "Joe is one of the leading coaches in world rugby, and it is fantastic for Irish rugby that he has committed until the end of the World Cup cycle.

"We have a talented group of coaches, and Joe has been central to attracting coaching talent and driving success with the national team."

And IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said: "The IRFU is delighted to confirm that Joe will continue through to the next World Cup.

"Since coming to Ireland he has made a huge contribution to Irish rugby at provincial and national level, and also actively supports our clubs across the four provinces."

Leinster lose but snatch late bonus point

Isa Nacewa lands a penalty for Leinster

Isa Nacewa lands a penalty for Leinster

MONTPELLIER 22 LEINSTER 16

With an hour on clock on a rainy afternoon in the south of France, Leinster looked like they were in damage limitation mode.

Rampant winger Nemani Nadolo had just scored Montpellier’s third try to put the result beyond doubt and Leinster had eight more minutes with Rob Kearney in the sin-bin and were 16 points down.

They were looking to prevent the French side getting an all-important bonus point, but finished with a losing point of their own that could prove so, so crucial in January thanks to Isa Nacewa’s try and conversion. A five point deficit on the table was reduced to three.

It was smash and grab stuff and they scarcely deserved it after an error-strewn display, but Leo Cullen won’t care. They’re still on top of the group after a fiendishly difficult away trip.

For an hour, they were overpowered by Jake White’s Challenge Cup winners who were fully deserving of a victory that leaves all four teams in Pool 4 in close contention after two games.

Montpellier have an enormous pack and one of the outstanding wingers in the world game in Nadolo and in dreadful conditions they played plenty of rugby to go with their brute force.

Although Nacewa scored the penalty, try and conversion that earned the vital point, it was Garry Ringrose who can take the credit for the revival. The 21-year-old brilliantly dragged his team back from the brink with a series of important interventions.

Johnny Sexton and Sean O’Brien only lasted 40 minutes, with the out-half looking far below his best after coming back from a hamstring injury, while Mick Kearney went off for a HIA and never returned.

After Castre’s huge win over Northampton on Saturday, there was an opportunity for Leinster to take command of Pool 4 at the Altrad Stadium but from the terms of engagement were set from the kick-off and it was always going to be a difficult ask.

In poor conditions, the expensively assembled collection of stars assembled by White took the game to their visitors; testing them at set-piece and confronting them with ball in hand.

For a half an hour, the three-time European champions held firm in the face of huge punishment but their error count meant they couldn’t get into the game themselves and, although Isa Nacewa was able to nudge them in front with a 25th minute penalty, the pressure eventually told.

Their scrum was solid and their lineout functioned well, but the defensive effort at both set-piece and in tackling the likes of Pierre Spies, Nadolo and Shalva Mamukashvili was huge and they regularly won collisions and burst through tackles.

What will frustrate Leinster will be their own ill-discipline and accuracy, particularly from senior players with lots of international experience.

Jamie Heaslip gave away the exact same penalty twice and both handed the French side the field position from which they scored their first tries, but he was far from the only culprit.

For the first try, O’Brien won a crucial turnover after Spies and Mamukashvili made big gains but Cian Healy knocked on when trying to pick and go.

Jannie du Plessis picked up the ball and shifted it to Vincent Martin who spotted Mike Ross in space and arced outside him. O’Brien couldn’t get a hand on, while the centre skipped over Robbie Henshaw’s despairing hand to score.

Frans Steyn converted and just when the Irish province needed cool heads Johnny Sexton, whose training has been limited as a result of a hamstring injury, skewed a clearing kick into touch.

From the lineout, Heaslip was again penalised for collapsing the maul and Steyn nudged his team into position. From there, they gained important metres from the maul before spreading it wide through the out-half’s long pass which found Martin who drew Zane Kirchner and released Nadolo  and the Fijian simply ran over Rob Kearney and Luke McGrath to score.

Steyn converted from the touchline to leave the visitors with a huge uphill battle at half-time.

The summit got a bit further away when the Montpellier pack worked a scrum penalty for their Springbok out-half to convert and when Leinster attempted to hit back their errors continued to cost them.

Nacewa closed the gap after Mamukashvili strayed offside, but again Leinster’s inaccuracy cost them as a Luke McGrath kick went out on the full and the Montpellier maul got going again.

That provided the platform for a three-on-two that Nadolo superbly made a two on one but Steyn knocked it on. The South African made up for that mistake a few seconds later by leaving Garry Ringrose for dead and shifting the ball out to Joffrey Michel.

The full-back chipped the ball over Rob Kearney and ran into his opposite number. Referee Luke Pearce deemed that the Ireland international body-checked the Frenchman and reached for a harsh yellow card.

The French side went for the jugular and, although they coped with the driving maul and forced their own scrum after Steyn found touch, the visitors then handed their opponents their third try.

With the 5m scrum under pressure, Heaslip picked and tried to find Zane Kircnher but Nadolo read him like a book, picked him off and crashed over.

Steyn missed the conversion and Nacewa pulled back a penalty for the 14 men who were now in damage limitation mode.

Ringrose made a clean break, but Jordi Murphy then spilled his pass to sum up the afternoon but they managed to get through the rest of their period without Kearney without conceding the all-important fourth try despite yet more brilliant work from Nadolo on the left wing.

With Kearney back on and the French fading, Ringrose continued to take the fight to the hosts as Leinster looked to salvage a bonus that had seemed so unlikely. Dan Leavy thought he had it, but Nadolo held him up and threw him backwards. Jamison Gibson Park had a few goes at the line with no avail and when they went wide Nacewa knocked on.

A Steyn knock on just outside his ’22 handed Leinster one last chance, Leavy made a brilliant break to take them close to the line and after a series of carries Gibson-Park zipped the ball wide to Nacewa who crossed the line and then eked out an easier kick for himself by touching down close to the posts.

He still needed the conversion to finish the job, but he held his nerve.

MONTPELLIER – J Michel (J Mogg 66); M O'Connor, V Martin, A Dumoulin, N Nadolo; F Steyn, N White; Y Watremez (M Nariashvili 50), S Mamukashvili (R Ruffenach ), Jannie du Plessis (D Kubriashvili 50); Jacques du Plessis, P Willemse; F Ouedraogo, A Qera (Capt) (W Liebenberg 66), P Spies (N van Rensburg 66).

LEINSTER – R Kearney; Z Kirchner, R Henshaw, G Ringrose, I Nacewa; J Sexton (J Carbery h-t), L McGrath (J Gibson-Park 64); C Healy (J McGrath 48), J Tracy (S Cronin 48), M Ross (M Bent 61); D Toner, M Kearney (I Nagle 44); S O'Brien (J Murphy h-t), J van der Flier (D Leavy 74), J Heaslip.

REF – L Pearce (England)

Video: Anthony Foley’s sons join Munster huddle after game

Anthony Foley's sons Tony, left, and Dan, with CJ Stander after the game

Anthony Foley’s sons Tony, left, and Dan, with CJ Stander after the game

The Munster players and their loyal faithful at Thomond Park honoured Anthony Foley’s memory with a stirring 38-17 victory over a shell-shocked Glasgow Warriors side.

Immediately after Munster's bonus-point win, achieved despite being a man light for 62 minutes after Keith Earls was sent off, the home squad linked arms in a large circle on the pitch and sang another rendition of 'Stand Up And Fight'.

A still-packed crowd, which numbered 25,600 during the match, joined in the chorus and then applauded the Munster squad, who were accompanied by Foley's sons Tony and Dan, on a lap of honour.

It was a fitting end to a truly emotionally-charged today that epitomised everything that is good about Munster rugby and their followers.
 

14-man Munster march to mammoth win at emotional Thomond Park

The Munster players line up before the game as the crowd pay tribute to Anthony Foley

The Munster players line up before the game as the crowd pay tribute to Anthony Foley

On the most surreal of afternoons at Thomond Park, 14-man Munster put the devastating events of the last week to one side as they paid tribute to Anthony Foley in the best possible manner with a quite stunning 38-17 bonus-point victory over Glasgow Warriors.

Not even Keith Earls’ 18 minute red card could deny Munster as they somehow mustered the courage and strength to not only line out for today’s game but to put in a truly inspired performance.

The Fields of Athenry and There is an Isle rang around the dark and gloomy Limerick sky. Tears flowed from the eyes of men, women and children all the while both teams continued to go through their warm-up. How difficult it must have been for them. 

At times, a sold-out Thomond Park was unsure how to react but this was very much a celebration of Foley’s life and his players fed off the special atmosphere in Limerick. 

The deafening silence that fell around the ground just minutes prior to Munster’s arrival onto the pitch is something that no one inside the famous Limerick ground will ever have felt before but the intensity with which the home side started the game left little doubt that were on a mission. 

It was Glasgow who were shellshocked and who could blame them but few would have predicted Munster playing with such incision and accuracy.

It’s often easy to forget just how good Tyler Bleyendaal is but the New Zealand born out-half is finally enjoying an injury free run and his performance went up another notch today.

It was Bleyendaal who scored the first of three first half tries as Jaco Taute and Simon Zebo followed him over the whitewash to give 14-man Munster a barely believable 24-3 half time lead. The bonus point arrived soon after. 

How fitting it was that the foundations of the win was based around Munster’s utterly dominant pack. Glasgow could barely contain their maul, while at scrum time, Munster bullied the Scots. At times it was like watching the Munster of yesteryear. 

But these are changing times down south as new leaders step up to the mark. Niall Scannell put in his best performance in a Munster jersey, while John Ryan’s reputation was once again enhanced.

Peter O’Mahony looked back to his best while CJ Stander, who was wearing the No 24 jersey as the No 8 was retired for the afternoon, was his typical brilliant self. 

In truth, the Munster supporters needed something to shout about early on and the atmosphere wasn’t long in lifting as it took all of three minutes to carry out what they come here today to do. 

Munster set up the maul and marched Glasgow back 15 metres in a manner that their fallen hero would have been proud of and just as they did many times with Foley in the side, they scored a brilliantly worked try off it.

Bleyendaal spotted a gap in Glasgow’s midfield and screamed at Earls to come in off his left wing just as the powerful rolling maul was halted. Thirty seconds later, Earls stormed his way through before an exquisite offload found Bleyendaal.

The Kiwi turned on the after burners and and his momentum eventually carried him over the whitewash to get Munster off to an ideal start.

Bleyendaal converted his own try but Munster’s indiscipline was punished seven minutes later when Finn Russell’s penalty in front of the posts cut the deficit. 

The Munster out-half who was making his Champions Cup debut controlled the tempo of Munster’s play and they were as incisive as they have been for some time.

Just short of the quarter hour mark, they were at it again. This time Stander snatched Glasgow ball on the Scottish side’s 22 and in the blink of an eye Munster counter attacked.

Niall Scannell who carried well all afternoon made ground through the middle before his brother Rory took control and drew a couple of defenders before putting Taute over in the corner.

Bleyendaal’s touchline conversion bisected the posts for a 14-3 lead but a rush of blood to Earls’ head four minutes later damped the mood again.

Peter O’Mahony could be heard remonstrating with the referee that Fraser Brown had turned himself int he tackle but after deliberating with his TMO, Jerome Garces branded the red card and already difficult afternoon became even more so for Munster.

Earls was furious but in the modern game, the Limerick native could have had little complaint with the decision.

Russell missed the resulting penalty as the home supporters felt some degree of justice was served but 12 minutes later, it was Bleyendaal who extended Munster’s lead (17-3). They had even more reason to cheer after half an hour when Munster ran in their third brilliantly worked try.

Rory Scannell’s quick feet made the initial break and there was Zebo waiting on the left wing to score after Stuart Hogg failed to hold him in the tackle.

It was a brilliant finish by Zebo who somehow managed to keep his feet in play and Bleyendaal converted to open up 21-point lead going into the break. 

Seven minutes after the restart the bonus point was sealed. Conor Murray had just been stopped short ofd the line before Munster repeatedly pummelled Glasgow at scrum time.

The pressure eventually told and Garces went under the posts and awarded the penalty try. Bleyendaal’s conversion put Munster 31-3 in front. 

For the most part, it looked like Glasgow who were playing with the man less but Munster’s legs tired and Glasgow finally got over for a try when replacement hooker Pat MacArthur burrowed his way over from close range.

Hogg converted and suddenly Glasgow believed again. Despite Darren Sweetnam’s efforts, Mark Bennett added a second converted try with 10 minutes remaining to bring the score back to 31-17. 

But just as they have done all week and just as they will need to do for the rest of the season, Munster summoned the strength from somewhere to seal the victory.

The forwards again battered their way around the fringes and Rory Scannell got over in the corner for a try that his fine performance deserved. Ian Keatley’s conversion put the icing on the cake of a victory that will never be forgotten in these parts.

This was a day that was all about Munster. Somewhere, Foley was smiling. 

Munster – S Zebo (R O'Mahony 77); D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, K Earls; T Bleyendaal (I Keatley 66), C Murray (D Williams 76); D Kilcoyne (B Scott 71), N Scannell (D Casey 61) (Scannell 67), J Ryan (S Archer 68); D Ryan (R Copeland 76), B Holland; P O'Mahony (capt) (J O'Donoghue 60), TO'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Glasgow Warriors – S Hogg; S Lamont, A Dunbar (M Bennett, 60), S Johnson, R Hughes; F Russell (P Murchie 60), H Pyrgos (A Price 48); G Reid (A Allan 26), F Brown (P MacArthur 47), Z Fagerson (S Puafisi 43); T Swinson, J Gray (capt): R Harley, R Wilson (L Wynne, 76), J Strauss (S Favart 33).

REF: J Garces (France)

By Cian Tracey