Ireland coach Declan Kidney extends contract

Ireland coach Declan Kidney
Declan Kidney guided Ireland to the Grand Slam in 2009

Ireland coach Declan Kidney and most of his backroom staff have signed contract extensions which will take them to the end of the 2012-13 season.

Former Munster chief Kidney and his assistant coaches Gert Smal, Les Kiss and Mark Tainton had been contracted until the end of this year's World Cup.

Backs coach Alan Gaffney, however, is not staying on.

Kidney guided the Irish to the 2009 Grand Slam, less than a year after taking over from Eddie O'Sullivan.

"The next four months represent a big challenge," said Kidney.

"The hard work that the players, coaches and the IRFU are putting into our preparations has been immense and I believe that if we maintain this level of commitment to each other, we will be in a good place come August and the World Cup in September."

Ireland play Scotland, France twice and England in August as part of their preparations for the World Cup.

Kidney's team are in Pool C along with Australia, the USA, Russia and Italy.

They start with a match against the USA in New Plymouth on 11 September.

A delighted Kidney described working with the Irish players as a "privilege".

"To be able to work with the level of players and coaches that Ireland have had during that time is a chance that very few get, so it has been a wonderful experience," added the Ireland coach.

"While the World Cup has been our focus in terms of developing the team and what we have been aiming at over the last number of years in terms of squad development, I think there are plenty more young players still to come through to international rugby and that is an exciting prospect for the future."

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said it was important to give "continuity over the next four months and importantly after the end of the World Cup tournament in New Zealand".

"Apart from securing the Grand Slam in 2009, the squad has made significant progress over the last two years in terms of results and the development of players in international competition," added Browne.

"This is not only due to the ability of the players, but the standard of coaching they have received."