Andy Farrell will return to international rugby union later this year after he was confirmed as Ireland's new defence coach.

The 40-year-old, who was axed by England in December, will commence his new role after the conclusion of the upcoming Six Nations tournament on 19 March and is initially contracted until the end of the 2019 World Cup.

"To have this opportunity to work with a very talented management and playing group really excites me," he said in an official release from the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). "With a wealth of top-class experienced senior players and a fantastic crop of youngsters pushing hard the future is very positive for Irish rugby and I can't wait to get started."


A former dual-code international, Farrell, whose son Owen is a current England fly-half, represented Wigan Warriors and Saracens during his playing career and also coached the current Aviva Premiership champions before being temporarily appointed to Stuart Lancaster's staff alongside Graham Rowntree and later Mike Catt.

Farrell spent four years at Twickenham in addition to accompanying the British and Irish Lions on their victorious tour to Australia, but became a focal point of his country's woeful 2015 World Cup campaign as persistent rumours circulated suggesting that the playing squad were split over the influence he yielded both in terms of tactics and personnel.

Lancaster left his role as head coach by mutual consent in November and successor Eddie Jones has since decided not to retain any of his coaches as he assembles a fresh backroom team including the likes of Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard.

"It's great to have Andy coming into our coaching team," Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said of the new appointment. "The quality of his delivery and breadth of his experience as well as the positive impact he had when coaching a number of our senior players during the 2013 Lions tour will add real value for us."

Ireland have won back-to-back Six Nations titles, with their last grand slam coming back in 2009. Schmidt's side were ousted by Argentina in the quarter-finals of the World Cup and face Wales at the Aviva Stadium on 7 February before trips to France and England. They return to Dublin in March, when they will face Italy and Scotland. A tour to South Africa awaits during the summer.