4 Potential Replacements Should Joe Schmidt Announce He’s Leaving Ireland In 2019

Next chapter.

Head coach Joe Schmidt yesterday revealed he will make a final decision on his future with Ireland by Sunday, before making an official announcement early next week, with many speculating he will announce he’s leaving following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Schmidt says it’s a decision that “has been a long time coming” and noted he “continue to just go backwards and forwards” in reference to the fact that his family are still living at home back in New Zealand.

But what happens if Schmidt leaves? No doubt he will be a huge loss, but at the same time you’d be confident that he and his coaching ticket (who are staying on regardless) have put the necessary structures in place so Ireland can continue to be successful without him – providing the right man replaces him.

Here are four possible replacements should Joe Schmidt decide to walk away after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Andy Farrell.
The man that masterminded victories over the All Blacks with England, the Lions and Ireland, keeping them try-less on two occasions. Farrell has proved himself over the last few years as one of the best and most sought after defence coaches in the world. He is hugely respected by the Irish Rugby players, and knows Schmidt’s system inside out having been part of it since late 2015. But could he step up to a head coaching role? Only Joe Schmidt will know that. And if he’s confident he can – there’s no doubt he’ll recommend Farrell to the IRFU.

Stuart Lancaster.
Could we see Andy Farrell and Stuart Lancaster team up at an international level once again? Their tenure with England ended bitterly, but both can rebuilt their careers since and then some. Lancaster has been key in Leinster’s success, playing a pivotal role in the double-winning season. Another guy who’s respected by the Irish players, and who has worked with a lot of them. His ability to get the best of of young players is also a huge positive and would definitely interest the IRFU.

Leo Cullen.
The Leinster coach has already said he thinks it might be a bit too soon for him to take on a job as big as the Ireland head coach role, but I beg to differ. Cullen has worked under Schmidt as a player, and no doubt learned a huge amount from him as one of the four provincial coaches. And look at the job he’s done at Leinster. They are arguably the best club side in the world now, and Cullen can take huge credit. Once again he knows all the players and there’s no doubt he has earned their respect.

Ronan O’Gara.
Perhaps still a bit soon for the prodigal son to return, but you never know. After spending four years with Racing 92 climbing the coaching ladder, O’Gara is now making a serious name for himself at the Crusaders, winning the Super Rugby title in his first season. By the time the Ireland head coach job comes up should Schmidt leave, O’Gara will have a second Super Rugby season under his belt on top of his Top 14 experience. Having no coaching experience with the provinces might work against him though, so maybe he’s better holding out to try and take over at Munster down the line, before progressing to Ireland.

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