Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has been appointed as World Rugby's director of rugby and high performance.

The New Zealander is to head up a new department at the governing body responsible for the high performance, match officials and technical services functions, including player welfare along with training and education. 

Schmidt ended a successful six-year tenure with Ireland after the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year and will start his new role next month.

The 2018 World Rugby Coach of the Year said: "I'm really looking forward to getting started. I'm passionate about the game and keen that people continue to enjoy being involved in it, from the young to the young at heart.

"The professional game is the showpiece for our sport and involving key stakeholders in our discussions about how the game is played and how players are managed will be beneficial.

"It has been a challenging year thus far and likely to remain difficult for some time, but it has been great to see the resumption of numerous competitions, with plenty of entertaining and exciting matches."

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said: "We are delighted to appoint a person of Joe's calibre, expertise and global credibility to this newly created and strategically important position within the organisation."