Former Ireland Boss Joe Schmidt Lands 2022 Coaching Role

Back in action.

Former Ireland boss, Joe Schmidt, is set to return Auckland-based, Super Rugby franchise, The Blues in a part-time role as a support coach in 2022 and will assist Head Coach Leon MacDonald.

Schmidt hasn’t coached since leaving Ireland after the 2019 Rugby World Cup following their defeat to the All Blacks in the quarter-final stages. He most recently held a role with World Rugby.

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He will be joined by Auckland Bunnings NPC defence coach Craig McGrath, who will be stepping up to join The Blues as defence coach for the Super Rugby Pacific campaign in 2022. He will retain his role with the Auckland NPC team.

Schmidt was formerly Assistant Coach with the Blues from 2005 to 2007, finishing with a close-fought semi-final loss to the Sharks in Durban. During that time, McGrath also joined the Blues as a replacement halfback.

Schmidt went on to coach in France with Clermont Auvergne, winning the Top 14 Championship and then in Ireland with Leinster winning the Heineken Cup twice as well as a European Challenge Cup and Pro 12 League before becoming Ireland’s Head Coach from 2013 to 2019. After his record-breaking stint with Ireland, Schmidt was appointed World Rugby’s Director of Rugby and High Performance.

McGrath, like Schmidt, had a stint as a player/coach in Ireland after playing in Italy, before switching full-time to coaching. He was an assistant coach with the Melbourne Rebels for four seasons and then with the Honda HEAT in Japan for three years, joining the Auckland NPC coaching staff with responsibility for defence and skills development in 2020.

The additions to the coaching staff follow the departure of Tana Umaga who stepped down as defence coach to focus on his family business after the Blues’ successful 2021 Super Rugby season.