New Zealand assistant coach Joe Schmidt has confirmed that he will not lead the All Blacks next year, as his focus will remain on this year’s Rugby World Cup. Responding to speculation that he was in the mix to replace outgoing head coach Ian Foster, Schmidt ruled himself out of the expedited New Zealand Rugby appointment process.
Schmidt, the former Ireland head coach, said that the coaching appointment process comes too soon for him, as he is reluctant to make any commitment for 2024. “In the shorter term, I will work hard to support the All Blacks in 2023,” he said.
Schmidt took up a Super Rugby Pacific assistant role with the Blues last year before joining the All Blacks coaching staff as an assistant. In seven years as Irish head coach, he led the team to three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2018, and their first-ever wins over New Zealand.
Two former All Blacks forwards, Scott Robertson and Jamie Joseph, are widely believed to be the only contenders to take the top spot when Foster stands down after the World Cup. Robertson, who has led the Crusaders to six Super Rugby titles, is the favorite to take charge in 2024. Joseph has more international experience, having coached Japan since finishing as coach of the Highlanders in 2016.
The new coach is expected to be unveiled by mid-April after NZ Rugby announced this month that it wants to ensure it recruits a world-class candidate in a competitive market. Foster has been critical of the timing of the appointment process, saying it could prove to be a distraction for him and the All Blacks players this year.
Schmidt, who is 57 years old, said that he has enjoyed being back on the grass coaching with the Blues and the All Blacks, and he appreciates those opportunities. However, presented with a condensed time frame this year, he won’t be applying for any coaching roles that extend beyond the Rugby World Cup.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to coach at the highest level, and I wish the All Blacks every success in the future,” Schmidt said.