Friend confirmed as new Connacht head coach

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have announced Andy Friend as the province’s new head coach.

Friend has signed a three year contract and will arrive in the Sportsground in late June to oversee pre-season training for the 2018/19 season.

Friend has extensive coaching experience at both club and international level. His professional coaching career extends back to the advent of the professional game, when he worked within the Australian Institute of Sport rugby programme in 1995.

He went on to hold assistant coaching positions at the New South Wales Waratahs and the Brumbies, where he worked as skills coach under Eddie Jones. In 2005, he took up the head coach role with English Premiership side, Harlequins, for three seasons. He subsequently returned to the Brumbies as head coach where he remained until 2011.

Friend also worked as a head coach in Japan for four seasons. On the international stage, he worked as part of Eddie Jones’ Wallabies coaching team for the Tri Nations Series in 2002 and the Rugby World Cup in 2003. He guided the Australian U21 team to the final of the World Championships in 2005, and his most recent role was as head coach of the Australian Sevens team.

Commenting on the appointment, CEO of Connacht Rugby, Willie Ruane, said: “We are delighted to announce Andy Friend as the new Head Coach of Connacht Rugby. Andy has a wealth of experience at international and club level and shares our ambition for Connacht Rugby over the coming seasons. He will arrive in the Sportsground at the end of June and will oversee the preseason training plan ahead of the 2018/19 season.”

Performance director of the IRFU, David Nucifora, commented: “Andy is an experienced head coach with insight into both northern and southern hemisphere club rugby through working in both the English Premiership and Super Rugby. He has experience in driving and developing organisation structures and has spent time working at the top end of the international game.”

Following his appointment, Andy Friend said: “I am extremely excited and honoured to be appointed as head coach of Connacht Rugby. Connacht is a proud province with huge potential to build on the success of recent seasons. I look forward to meeting the players, staff, supporters and wider community when I arrive in the Sportsground ahead of the new season.”

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