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Ulster confirm appointment of Dan McFarland as next head coach

The former Connacht prop has built an impressive coaching CV and emerged as Ulster’s number one candidate for the job.

Updated Apr 30th 2018, 3:15 PM

FORMER CONNACHT FORWARDS coach Dan McFarland has been named as Ulster’s next head coach after the Scottish Rugby Union this morning confirmed he has activated a get-out clause from his current role with Scotland.

Dan McFarland McFarland played for and coached at Connacht. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The SRU say McFarland will serve a nine-month notice period before leaving his job with Scotland under head coach Gregor Townsend, but The42 understands he will be free to leave for Belfast as soon as a replacement is appointed.

Shortly after the SRU’s announcement, Ulster confirmed the appointment of McFarland on a three-year contract to succeed Jono Gibbes, who is leaving at the end of the season to take up a position with Waikato in New Zealand.

The former Connacht prop will continue in his role as Scotland forwards coach for their summer tour of Canada, USA and Argentina, and it is then envisaged he will be released to move to Ulster ahead of the 2018/19 season.

“I am really excited that I will be taking on the Ulster Head Coach role,” he said.

“I know firsthand from my years visiting with Connacht and Glasgow the passion and fervour that makes playing in front of Ulster fans so special.

“It’s a club with a great history and I welcome the challenge of being a part of their future.”

Les Kiss exited his position as Ulster’s director of rugby by mutual consent at the end of January, when Gibbes took control of the team.

But with Gibbes’ upcoming exit confirmed at the start of March, Ulster have been looking for a new head coach and McFarland emerged as their number one candidate.

The 46-year-old played for Connacht as a loosehead prop in a career that also included stints with Richmond and Stade Français.

He moved into coaching with Connacht in 2006 and worked with the western province for nine years, during which time he also had roles with the Ireland U20s, Emerging Ireland and the Irish Wolfhounds.

Dan McFarland McFarland has built an impressive coaching CV. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McFarland moved to Glasgow Warriors as forwards coach under Townsend in 2015 and followed him into the Scotland national set-up in 2017.

“Dan was our number one candidate so we’re obviously very happy to have secured his services for the next three years,” Ulster’s rugby operations director, Bryn Cunningham, said.

“Dan’s CV is hugely impressive and he commands great respect within the game.

“He enjoyed successful spells with Connacht and Glasgow, and the fact that Gregor brought him into the Scotland set-up speaks volumes for how highly he rates him.

“Our priority in this process was to identify and recruit the best possible candidate first and foremost. With the confirmation of Dan’s appointment, we will be announcing at least one further addition to the coaching team in the near future to ensure that we have a strong unit in place in advance of pre-season.”

Scotland have confirmed that Worcester Warriors head coach Carl Hogg, who played for Scotland as a back row, has been added to their coaching staff on an interim basis.

Hogg will share the forward-coaching duties with McFarland on this summer’s tour.

Ulster’s chief executive, Shane Logan, added: “I’d like to congratulate Bryn and our Professional Game Board for conducting such a thorough process that has led to this appointment.

“We have worked closely with the IRFU and are very pleased with the outcome.”

With reporting by Ryan Bailey

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