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While it is normal to see coaching turnover at the end of a World Cup cycle, the aftermath of the 2019 tournament will be particularly poignant.
Steve Hansen, current world champion, will leave his post as New Zealand head coach. However, it is two of his countrymen, Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland, whose departures will be felt the most, curtailing unique chapters in Irish and Welsh rugby.
Wales head coach Gatland and Ireland counterpart Schmidt have been two of the most influential coaches in the last decade of European rugby. Their achievements speak for themselves: six of the last eight Six Nations have been won by a Schmidt or Gatland side.
Read more:Shane Williams interview: ‘This is the strongest Wales squad I’ve ever seen. They need this World Cup.’
The World Cup, which starts this week in Japan, is a golden opportunity for one of the two to end their international stints with the trophy their work deserves.
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Schmidt and Gatland may not be as ferocious and forthright as Eddie Jones, or as creative as Sir Clive Woodward, but they have set a blueprint for modern-day international coaches, using intense attention to detail to create steely, hard to conquer sides.
It would be difficult to dispute that they are both their nation’s greatest professional-era coach. They are certainly the most successful.
Schmidt, for example, has comfortably the best winning percentage (72.5%) of any Ireland coach and has won three out of Ireland’s four total Six Nations in just six years.
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