Kidd's reign as Ireland's coach is over


MURRAY KIDD'S brief reign as Ireland's rugby coach is over. The New Zealander will not be in control of the side for the opening match of the international championship against France at Lansdowne Road on Saturday week.

The news of Kidd's impending departure came following a meeting yesterday between IRFU officers and the election subcommittee of the union, the body responsible for appointing the coach.

This followed one of Ireland's worst performances in recent years, the 37-29 defeat by Italy at Lansdowne Road on Saturday. Since the beginning of last year's international championship, the team has lost six of seven matches under the New Zealander.

Kidd was appointed Irish coach in October 1995. He had played at representative level in New Zealand before becoming coach to Garryowen in 1990. In the three years he spent with the Limerick club, it won the All Ireland League twice. Between 1993 and 1995, he had two spells coaching Sunday's Well.

There will be an interim appointment as coach for the match against France. However, until Kidd formally resigns, no new appointment will be made in deference to the outgoing coach and the sensitivity of a difficult situation.

Confirmation of Kidd's departure will come this week, once details of his severance terms are formally agreed. Kidd, the first non national to coach the Irish team, may well be given the option of resigning.

The task facing the IRFU's election sub committee - Eddie Coleman, Syd Millar and Noel Murphy - to find a successor is a formidable one. Willie Anderson, who would be the players' choice, is under contract to London Irish.

Dave Haslett, the coach to the Ireland A side, has an excellent record with the Ireland schools and under 21 team, and is one short term option. Former Ireland A team coach Harry Williams is another.

Other names which could come up are those of Munster coach Gerry Holland, Ireland under 21 coach Eddie O'Sullivan, former international Donal Spring and, in Britain, Brian Aston, apparently about to resign as coach at Bath, and Tony Russ, briefly Ulster coach and now at Waterloo.

Contrary to suggestions, Kidd - unlike the manager, Pat Whelan, who is an honorary appointment - was not appointed coach up to and including the 1999 World Cup. The contract he has with the IRFU has an inbuilt clause that it can be terminated by either side with two months notice. That option will now be exercised.

There are legal aspects to Kidd's departure because he is a full time employee of the IRFU.

I understand Kidd is likely to be offered a severance payment of about £30,000. That may be negotiable. Until the legal formalities are complete, it is unlikely that the IRFU will make any formal statement.

Pat Whelan declined to comment on the coach's situation last night, although he was present at yesterday's meeting. However, his comment at the post match press conference on Saturday was ominous in light of what was to happen the following day.

"Ireland's play is devoid of any concerted or discernible pattern," he said.