Les Kiss leaves Ulster by mutual consent as Jono Gibbes takes over

The former Ireland defence coach is leaving his position as director of rugby.

ULSTER DIRECTOR OF rugby Les Kiss has left his position by mutual consent, the province has confirmed.

The Australian will step down from his role effective immediately, with head coach Jono Gibbes taking over.

Les Kiss during the warm up Kiss has not enjoyed sustained success since taking over in 2015. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kiss took charge of Ulster in 2014, initially on an interim basis, having previously worked with Ireland as defence coach, but did not enjoy any sustained success with the province.

Ulster failed to advance from the pool stages in all three full seasons of Kiss’ tenure, while their Pro14 performances have not inspired confidence among supporters, with a semi-final defeat in 2016 followed by missing out on the knock-out stages altogether last season.

Having left his position with Ulster, it now appears that Kiss’ time in Irish rugby is at an end, with the IRFU releasing a statement to thank him for his services – which included helping Ireland to three Six Nations titles, including the 2009 Grand Slam.

Ulster have turned to Gibbes to step into control, the former Leinster assistant having joined as head coach from Clermont at the start of the current season.

With star players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding currently on trial for alleged rape, the province finds itself in difficult circumstances.

“Ulster Rugby can confirm that Les Kiss will be leaving his post as Director of Rugby by mutual consent, effective immediately,” reads a statement from the province this evening.

“Ulster Rugby would like to thank Les for his commitment and wish him well in his future career.

“Head Coach, Jono Gibbes, will assume responsibility for all coaching matters and will lead the current coaching team of Dwayne Peel, Aaron Dundon and Niall Malone. A review will be conducted to ascertain if additional coaching expertise is required.

“Operations Director, Bryn Cunningham, will manage the off-field operations of the professional team.”

The IRFU soon followed up by thanking Kiss for his contribution to Irish rugby.

Les has played a huge part in shaping the success of Irish rugby at national and provincial level since he joined the IRFU in 2008,” said the union’s performance director, David Nucifora.

“It’s no secret that we were disappointed to lose Les from the national team set-up in 2015 but we fully understood his decision to pursue the opportunity at Ulster Rugby.

“We wish him, his wife Julie and all his family all the very best for the future.”

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