Joe Schmidt will decide on whether to remain with Ireland beyond next year’s Rugby World Cup following the autumn internationals in November, as Irish Rugby Football Union bosses admitted the New Zealander is not indispensable to the future success of the team.
The IRFU released its next five-year strategic plan Tuesday, which sets targets of reaching the semifinals or better at the next two World Cups as well as winning at least two Six Nations titles by 2023.
Ireland head coach Schmidt’s current deal with the country expires following next year’s World Cup in Japan, with the expectation being that he will return home to New Zealand at the end of his contract.
But IRFU chief executive Philip Browne and performance director David Nucifora said the targets of its strategic plan will remain the same, even if Schmidt does decide to end his stay in the country.
“It is a collective and at times people, certainly outside of Irish rugby, don’t understand that and Joe is an important part of that collective and has done a fantastic job,” Browne said.
“At the end of the day, David [Nucifora] is having conversations with Joe until he makes up his mind and we will be thinking about it once the November internationals are under the belt.
“My father, in his wisdom, used to say graveyards are full of people who thought they were indispensable.
“The reality is the plan can’t be built around one person, it has to be built around systems, processes and structures.”
Under Schmidt, Ireland have won three Six Nations titles, including a historic Grand Slam in 2018, and reached the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
They also defeated New Zealand for the first time in 2016 and are ranked as the second-best team in the world ahead the World Cup next year.
“A lot of the success is down to Joe, he’s driven a lot of really good things in the Irish game and not just with the national team,” Nucifora added.
“Part of his strength is that he’s built a team that can carry those things on, that can carry them forward.
“Any good programme has to be sustainable. A lot of the work that we do is about that, about being sustainable.
“And regardless of whether Joe chooses to stay or go, he’d be the first one to tell you that he’s confident that it is sustainable.”
Ireland face Italy, Argentina, New Zealand and the U.S. in their four November Tests next month.