IRFU sack Kidney to end five-year Ireland reign
Coaching duties end today with Les Kiss to take interim position for US tour
Declan Kidney’s five-year reign as Ireland manager has ended. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) today announced that it will not be offering a new contract to Declan Kidney after his current agreement ends on June 30th next, with the Corkman’s role as Ireland's senior men's coach ceasing today.
The decision was made following an in-depth review process carried out by the IRFU's National Team Review Group (NTRG).
A statement from the union read: “The IRFU thank Declan Kidney for the unquestionable commitment, passion, professionalism and success he has delivered to Irish rugby to date.
“The IRFU, through the NTRG, will continue the process of identifying suitable candidates for the Ireland coaching role.
“The tour of North America, where Ireland will play the USA (Houston, June 8th) and Canada (Toronto, June 15th) will now be led by interim head coach Les Kiss who will be assisted by Gert Smal and Anthony Foley. ”
Philip Browne, IRFU CEO, said: "We would like to sincerely thank Declan for his commitment to Irish rugby. His contribution and involvement across the spectrum of Irish rugby delivered underage, provincial, Grand Slam and Triple Crown success, and epitomises his passion, belief and commitment to the game.
"With a host of new and emerging talent at every level, and despite the clear challenges ahead, we are confident of securing another world-class coach to work with this talented and ambitious group of players."
The 53-year-old Kidney was almost five years in the position having been originally appointed in May 2008, succeeding Eddie O'Sullivan. He did not immediately take charge. He was coaching Munster at the time and instead concentrated on leading them to a second Heineken Cup final triumph against Toulouse, following on from the 2006 victory over Biarritz.
Michael Bradley acted as interim coach for a game against the Barbarians and a two-match tour to the southern hemisphere where Ireland lost to New Zealand and Australia. Kidney’s first game in charge was a 55-0 win over Canada that November.
In that Autumn Test series Ireland lost to New Zealand but crucially beat Argentina 17-3 to guarantee a top eight seeding for the 2011 World Cup. In his first full season in charge he led Ireland to only their second ever Grand Slam, bridging a gap of 61 years. He was voted IRB coach of the year.
Ireland won three of five matches in the 2010 and 2011 Six Nations and in the 2011 World Cup won all their pool matches in the tournament, including a famous victory over Australia before suffering a frustrating defeat to Wales in the quarter-final.
A disappointing 2012 Six Nations in which Ireland lost to England and Wales - they did manage a fine 17-17 draw with France in Paris - was followed by a 60-0 thrashing in the third of three Tests against the All Blacks that summer, having come within a whisker of beating New Zealand (22-19) in the second Test. It heaped further pressure on the coach.
A thumping 46-24 win over Argentina in November of last year was followed by victory over Wales in the Millennium stadium in the opening Six Nations match this season; unfortunately it proved the only success as the national side lost to England, Scotland and Italy, while managing a 13-13 draw with France.
Kidney had to contend with an horrendous injury list during that campaign that denied him half a dozen key players. The NTRG met with Kidney the Wednesday after Ireland's defeat to Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on March 16th.
The teams Kidney guided won trophies throughout his coaching career from his days in Pres Cork, where he taught; his greatest triumph at underage level was coaching Ireland to victory in the 1998 World Cup in France, beating the host nation in the final.
That team led by Shane Moore, included Brian O’Driscoll, Kieran Campbell, Paddy Wallace and Donncha O’Callaghan, all future internationals. He coached the Ireland Schools and also led Ireland A to Churchill Cup success. He played rugby with UCC and Dolphin.