POLL: Who should replace Declan Kidney as head coach of Ireland?

Declan Kidney yesterday stood down as head coach of Ireland, after the IRFU revealed they would not be renewing his contract this summer. After a tumultuous and ultimately unsuccessful Six Nations campaign, it was the decision that most people saw coming.

Kidney paid the price for being over-conservative during his reign as top dog of Irish rugby. For years the likes of Johnny Sexton, Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell have provided the backbone of the Ireland team, but where Kidney failed was in making sure that there was a next generation coming through to replace these guys when, in the end, they either ran out of steam or got injured.

The fly-half issue sums it up best. Johnny Sexton is one of the best in the world on his day, but when he got injured in the second game of the championship, they were left with Ronan O’Gara as the only other player with any experience in this position at international level. After a couple of games it was clear he was too old for this level of rugby. That left the weight of responsibility on the shoulders of young Paddy Jackson, and while he did admirably well after being thrust into the limelight, there’s no doubt he would have benefitted from being phased into the team over the passt few years.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. In 2009 Kidney did get it right, and Ireland won their first and only grand slam in the Six Nations era – 61 years after their only other successful clean sweep in the Five Nations. Other highs included the beating of the Wallabies in RWC 2011, and while these successes don’t deserve to be forgotten, it is the more recent failures that Kidney is, sadly, likely to be remembered for.

Now the IRFU have a big decision to make. Do they look for a foreigner, or is someone homegrown the best option? If they decide the former, Ewen McKenzie is hands down the favourite having declared that he will leave the Queensland Reds at the end of the current Super Rugby season to pursue an international coaching career. Joe Schmidt, hugely popular in Ireland after his successes with Leinster, would be another option, although he has recently signed a contract extension with the province. If homegrown is the way to go, the two leading contenders would have been Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea or his Saracens equivalent Mark McCall. The former, however, has ruled himself out of the running, while the latter has also just signed a contract extension. Another option would be a Stuart Lancaster-type deal – if Les Kiss does well he will know that he’s in with a shout.

So it is a tricky decision, but a vitally important one with RWC 2015 looming on the horizon. With plenty of quality options available, who would you like to see take the reigns?

Who should be the next Ireland coach?

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22 thoughts on “POLL: Who should replace Declan Kidney as head coach of Ireland?

  1. How about Martin Johnson?!? ;-)

    If I were Irish, I’d want Conor O’Shea, but as I’m a Quins fan, No! Leave him with us for a couple of seasons at least…

    1. Shouldn’t think Conor would be interested in leaving Quins yet, its a long term project that he’ll be reluctant to leave.

      Martin Johnson is too English to be accepted by the Irish as coach, whereas Woodward was great at his short spell with London Irish. Woodward in charge with a team of young talented coaches (like the Rob Andrew, Lancaster, Farrell, Rowntree etc England setup) could be the key to a RWC 2019 victory for Ireland (and I am English).

      Woodward as Performance Director etc with Mark McCall in the Lancaster role making use of Brian O’Driscoll in the coaching setup is key. Former greats like Peter Stringer and Keith Wood could also be a great coaches.

      Ireland had the oldest squad at RWC 2011, if they make these changes now a RWC 2015 Quarter Final is not impossible, however they’ll have to start picking the future stars now as the talents of Bowe, Marshall, Sexton, Zebo are RWC 2015 Semi Final quality and future RWC winners with experience and consitent injury free performances.

  2. The obvious candidate is Joe Schmidt and I think the IRFU will make him the focus of their attention over the next couple of months. Unfortunately Schmidt has stated on numerous occasions that his intention is to head home to New Zealand after his Leinster contract finishes. O’Shea is a reasonably popular choice among the public here, but whether the rugby public really get behind him will depend on how Quins perform in the Heineken Cup over the next couple of months. It may all be a moot point as he appears to have ruled himself out.

  3. If we are to change the coach, I think the whole coaching staff has to be changed. Keeping Les Kiss on as interim coach seems pointless to me and Mike Ruddock should have been given the job on an interim basis as an audition for the full time role.

    If we are to appoint a new coach, then I feel we would be best served by appointing a foreigner as much of the time the criticism held against Kidney was his bias toward Munster players e.g. Andrew Trimble being ignored for some reason. The outsatnding option is Joe SChmidt who would encourage a brand of rugby that would suit Ireland and be very much the needed stepping stone for him before going onto coach New Zealand in the future.

    Hence, my choices would be Je SChmidt or Mike Ruddock, though Conor O Shea (although unlikely) would be good.

  4. slightly inept post and some awful choices. i hope the irfu wont be taking advice from here. for one, o’shea has stated that he has no intention of breaking contract with quinns and wants to extend it if he can.

    of all the above choices id go with none of the above. jack white maybe. sometimes i wish simon geoghegan went into coaching. o’driscoll is definitely not suitable.

  5. That is a lttle harsh Mitchell. I think the poll represents what people want not the reality. Joe schmidt, for one, is an excellent candidate.

    You suggest WHite but he is only two years through a three year project in SA and is about as likely as O Shea.

    Given the ability and decision makingof the IRFU in the past, I wouldnt be surprised if they did take advice from message boards.

    1. why?

      aged fossils in the super 15, welsh and english coaches – theyve only been a disaster historically. we’re a bit too open maybe.

      im going to throw a spanner in the works: eric elwood (current manager of cannacht). i think he might take it if offered and i think he could do a good job. just my 2 worthless eurocents.

  6. It’s a bit of a poisoned chalice for whoever takes it? For some reason Ireland are viewed as a team that should be regularly winning things, reaching WC semis/finals, etc. So any coach is going to have to achieve that to be seen as successful in Ireland.

    Contrast that with Wales/Scotland, who have similar resources and histories, where coming last but one in the 6N would have been unlikely to have cost a coach his job, especially in the context of the injuries suffered.

    Yes, Ireland have talent but apart from BOD I don’t see much (if at all) more talent than England/Wales/France? So beating Wales, losing to Eng and drawing to France shouldn’t be seen as disastrous, it’s the level Ireland are at, surely? Ok, losing to Italy is one of those (for everyone except Engand) things that comes around and Italy are far from a pushover now…

    Which, to summarise my ramblings, means I am mystified as to why a) reaching WC QF, b) 1st Slam in 50 years c) having one below par injury hit run in the 6N is seen as a complete failure? I think expectations are excessive compared to resources.

    1. Winning a GS four years ago is not a pre-requisite for keeping your job. 16 wins out of 40 is simply not good enough. Wales have a similar talent pool in terms of quality and size yet have been maximising their ability. Declan Kidney’s style of play won Munster 2 heino cups and Ireland success but it is out of date.

      Ireland have good enough players to win the six nations, having our lowest position ever in the six nations is not good enough.

      We want a sustained high level of rugby ability in our national teams, not boom or bust.

      1. 16/40 is poor but at some point any team, with any coach, is going to hit that transition point and suffer their worst ever 6 nations performance. In the context of injuries, beating the eventual champions, etc. then I do not see it as such a disastrous campaign for Ireland. I also think they can win the 6 nations but wouldn’t expect them to do so – they hardly ever won it even when they were blessed with a fully fit BOD and those around him, no matter who was in charge. So winning it would be good, but not expected.

        1. Also I’m not sure of the stats but I think 16/40 (37%) is a better win ratio than Wales have had since the start of the 6 nations? (I think Wales are somewhere around the mid 20s?).

    2. he was not seen at all as a complete failure as i listen to irish radio. he is seen as out of tricks and had been there too long. also, he relied om previous good work done by o’sullivan and gatland and is inconsistent. he wasnt fired. his contract wasnt renewed. i think its a good time for him to leave as he has attachments to certain players. there is not a huge amount of pressure on any incomming coach as brighy suggests. reaching the qfs in the next wc would be par for the course. a rising italy and established france stand in the way so it is a little of a poisoned chalice for a manager not ip to the task. for me the wc is not the be all and end all. i prefer club but i would like to see ireland do better in southern hem tests. that would be enough to satisfy me for the next 5 years – good soithern hem test performance.

  7. Before replacing the coach, take agood look at the players. Losing BOD will be exceedingly difficult. As is the loss of form of ROG et al. I am not a supporter of Declan Kidney but I don’t see any brilliance waiting in the wings. The Ireland team of 2011 would thrash the 2013 team despite many of the same players. None of us can beat the clock and injuries are an unpredictable element, as we have seen in 2013.

    I wish there was an answer but I thank Wales so much from sparing me from the pain of watching England celebrating a Six nations trophy….

    We needed to burture new talent sooner. Irish rugby development may need a management tune up.

    1. I agree Terence – it’s also too easy to assume fledgeling talent has been held back by poor coaching rather than countenance the idea that not all of that talent will blossom (or would have blossomed). For the likes of Gilroy and Zebo you could see the same articles written about Earls and Trimble a few years ago but they have since failed to really live up to their early billing – all of our teams have examples of boys like that. So it’s not a foregone conclusion that Ireland would have been (or will be in the future) more successful just by playing Zebo more. We don’t know yet if he’s going to have that international quality.

  8. Given the structure of Irish rugby; i.e. controlling its 4 provinces, and the access to its players etc, one would have thought that there would be some sort of succession plan in place. As brighty notes, he has come to the end of his contract and they are (unsurprisingly) not continuing it.

    There are very few successful coaches in Rugby who just keep going (Guy Noves perhaps the only example). All coaches will inevitably come to a point where they struggle to continue past successes, with the same set of players – let alone a changing set of players.

    Do Ireland really have a conveyor belt of fine up and coming players to nurture and bring forward? I don’t know that answer as I don’t know Irish rugby well enough, but for sure this would be the question in the mind of any potential coach of good standing.

    Scott Johnson must be getting itchy feet by now. Its been months since he last changed jobs!

  9. i believe ireland still have potential whoever their coach, as the lions draw near many of their players have quality to be picked. Ireland do have a great team however they need a decent coach to make sure all players are used to their best. I think jake white would be great for this, i really dont think a former irish player should take over it really wont work, but look at wales they have a worldclass coach (gatland) from the southern hemisphere, jake white has coached south africa for a long time, he even coached them to success in the 2007 world cup, he has experience from the rugby played by the big guns and he could give ireland the shift they need

    1. i agree with u but if they did decided to go with someone irish, i think the current connacht coach – eric elwood (who is not renewing after the 2012/2013 season)- would be my choice. o’ shea and mccall wont be available. definitely not o’shea i think. i think quins might win the hc this year.

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