Schmidt commits to Ireland for 2019 World Cup
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has shunned interest from Super Rugby to remain in charge of the team up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
New Zealander Schmidt has been in charge of Ireland since 2013, leading them to the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup before a surprise defeat to Argentina, as well as overseeing consecutive Six Nations triumphs in 2014 and 2015 and a maiden Irish win in South Africa earlier this year.
Such achievements had reportedly drawn the attention of Super Rugby duo Highlanders and Chiefs in his homeland.
But the 51-year-old has confirmed he will lead Ireland to Japan in three years' time, suggesting the "strength" shown in the country after Munster coach Anthony Foley's shock passing was a factor in convincing him to stay.
Schmidt said in a statement: "I'd 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 benefitted immensely from their support."
Schmidt's commitment will further boost Irish rugby officials as they look for a strong showing in Japan, while their bid to host the following tournament in 2023 is ongoing.