©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

IRFU confirm Declan Kidney exit

Gert Smal, Les Kiss and Anthony Foley will coach Ireland on this summer’s tour of North America.

THE IRFU HAS today announced the end of Declan Kidney’s time as Ireland head coach.

The Union’s National Team Review Group met this week and the decision has been taken not to renew the coach’s contract when it expires this summer.

Kidney has already overseen his last Ireland game, the Six Nations defeat to Italy. Les Kiss, Gert Smal and Anthony Foley will lead the squad on this summer’s tour to North America.

A statement from the Union this afternoon, said: “The IRFU thank Declan Kidney for the unquestionable commitment, passion, professionalism and success he has delivered to Irish Rugby to-date.”

The Grand Slam coach had come in for heavy criticism from all quarters during this year’s disastrous Six Nations campaign.

His reign was characterised by its highs and lows; with the ultimate success of 2009 and the considerable feat of topping a World Cup group ahead of the much-fancied Australia turning to failed Triple Crown attempts and lost half-time leads.

Lowest ebb

The lowest ebb of all for the ex-Munster coach arrived in the months following the lacklustre World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales. Typically, the 2012 tour to New Zealand featured the relative positive of a narrow 23-20 loss to New Zealand. Seven days later the World Champions were in less forgiving mood, blitzing Ireland 60-0 in Hamilton.

With the season starting with thinly veiled criticism from Brian O’Driscoll, Kidney had installed Jamie Heaslip as captain in his absence before the losing run stretched to five in November.

That loss, and the need to secure seeding for the 2015 World Cup, seemed to prompt Kidney into rejuvenating the squad. Argentina, albeit at the end of their longest ever season, were dismissed with devastating effect by the lighting pace of a back three of Craig Gilroy, Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo.

Kidney’s fifth and final Six Nations was one beset by injuries to key players. Paul O’Connell and Stephen Ferris – already out of commission in November – were soon joined in the stands by Bowe, Zebo, Richardt Strauss, Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan, Chris Henry and Gordon D’Arcy.

Ultimately, it seems the decision to remove Kidney was made on the basis of his reaction to the daunting injury list and the failure to overcome the hurdles posed by Scotland, France or Italy in the second half of the Championship.

This morning, with the hunt for Kidney’s replacement already underway, bookmakers Paddy Power slashed the odds on Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie becoming Ireland’s next permanent head coach.

In pictures: Declan Kidney’s tenure as Ireland coach

Opinion: ’09 will never be forgotten, but it’s about time we moved on

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