Ireland have confirmed the appointment of Declan Kidney as head coach through to the next World Cup.
Kidney, the Munster head coach, replaces Eddie O'Sullivan, who resigned following Ireland's disappointing World Cup performance and their worst RBS 6 Nations campaign.
But Kidney, who will have no input into the selection of preparation of the squad.,will not take charge until after Ireland's summer tour of New Zealand and Australia in order to concentrate on Munster's forthcoming Heineken Cup final against Toulouse.
South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White, former Leicester boss Pat Howard and Wales' Grand Slam-winning coach Mike Ruddock were all linked with the post.
But the Irish Rugby Union have turned to Kidney, who worked as O'Sullivan's assistant between 2002 and 2004 and has delivered great success to Munster on the European stage.
After a series of near misses, Kidney delivered Munster's first Heineken Cup triumph in 2006 with victory over Biarritz at the Millennium Stadium.
And Kidney returns to Cardiff with Munster on May 24 chasing a second European triumph in three years before assuming the biggest job of his career.
"There is no greater honour for any coach than to lead his own countr,” said Kidney. “I have had that privilege at several levels of the game in Ireland from schools and under-19s as well as working with the senior Ireland team and I am delighted to have this opportunity and to be here at what is the pinnacle of my career.
"I have worked with many exceptional players during my career at both international and provincial level and there is no doubt that we have the talent in Ireland to be successful at the highest level.
"The challenge going forward for the Ireland team and Irish Rugby as a whole is to continue the growth and success on the field. I am excited about the challenge and looking forward to working with the players.
"My focus now for the next three weeks will be totally on the Munster team and the preparation for the Heineken European Cup final."
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said: “The record of Declan Kidney speaks for itself and it was obvious from the very beginning of this process that he was one of the main contenders to lead Ireland to the next Rugby World Cup in 2011.
“His ability to achieve success and develop players in the ever increasing competitive arena of professional rugby is proven and the IRFU is delighted to have made this appointment.
“While the need to make the appointment as soon as was practicable was important, the IRFU was conscious of keeping any disruption to the preparations of the Munster team to a minimum.”