Former Ireland coach Schmidt to step down from World Rugby post

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Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is to step down as director of rugby and high performance at World Rugby for family reasons (AFP/Odd ANDERSEN)
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Joe Schmidt is to step down as director of rugby and high performance at World Rugby at the end of the year after just over a year in the post, the sport's governing body announced on Friday.

The former Ireland coach -- who turns 56 later this month -- took the decision as he wants to spend more time with his family at home in New Zealand.

Schmidt was appointed in October last year after highly successful spells in charge of Irish province Leinster -- guiding them to two European Cup titles -- and Ireland whom he coached to three Six Nations titles with the pinnacle the 2018 Grand Slam.

"While we are sad to be losing Joe, we fully support his reasons and appreciate the strong contributions that he has made to the organisation and the game over the last year," said World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin in a statement.

"His passion for the advancement of the game is tremendous and we are delighted that his expertise and experience will remain at the heart of game-related decision-making as a member of the High Performance Rugby Committee."

Schmidt said with the travel restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic it had given him time to reflect on where his priorities lay.

"World Rugby have a challenging task bringing together a vast array of stakeholders to grow and future proof the game, particularly with the pandemic creating further complications," he said.

"I'd like to thank the World Rugby staff for their support and positivity during the past 12 months.

"I am disappointed to be leaving World Rugby, but look forward to continuing an association with them through the High Performance Rugby Committee and other key working groups."

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