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Free-falling Harlequins turn to Methody coach Wells in bid to revive their fortunes

By Michael Sadlier

Belfast Harlequins have recruited Methodist College's Nicky Wells to be the club's new head coach as the Deramore outfit seek to bounce back from a disappointing season.

Wells, who has been in charge at Methody since 2006, will front a new coaching structure at Quins, whose AIL campaign saw them relegated for the second season running after finishing bottom of Division 2A with just two wins coming from their 18 games.

The six-time Schools' Cup-winning coach takes over from Andrew Gillespie, who spent one season in charge at Deramore in the wake of the long-serving Adam Larkin's departure following relegation from Division 1B in 2016.

Quins will be playing in Division 2B next season but the once high-flying club are determined to turn things around and return to the top flight again.

The club hope that Wells will kick-start this revival and Quins are aiming to draw on his considerable experience at Methody, where he has been in charge of the school's senior squad for over a decade since his long-serving father Davy's retirement.

Wells has also clocked up some AIL experience and until recently was part of the coaching ticket at Ballymena, who remain in the league's Division 1B.

At Methody, Wells has built up a considerable track record with the senior squad and won three Schools' Cups in a row, while his watch has also seen the emergence of Paddy Jackson, Craig Gilroy and Michael Allen, who have all gone on to succeed in the professional game.

Quins are planning to begin their revival next season and, with Wells in charge, the club are confident that he will forge a stronger link-up with the school which had previously existed prior to the club's formation when Collegians - a former Methody pupils' club - and North of Ireland amalgamated in 1999.

Quins' honorary secretary Stephen Bourke explained: "With Nicky coming on board, Harlequins now have that clear link with Methody.

"We hope that this will establish a strong link and that Nicky's presence will lead to something which will bring success to the club as our aspirations are to return to top-flight rugby over the next few years.

"Nicky has a wealth of experience as well as a huge passion for rugby.

"We hope that having him join the club will be beneficial for the entire structure and will also be hugely beneficial for our established players as well as being positive for our young players too.

"We need to generate positivity around the club and Nicky will instil that as well as having an impact on all-important player recruitment."

It is believed that Wells, who will be combining his new role at Quins with his current position at Methody, will have two assistant coaches in a new-look backroom team at Quins.

Meanwhile, former Quins coach Andre Bester has been appointed as the successor to Jeremy Davidson at Aurillac in the French second division.

Former Ulster, Ireland and Lions second row Davidson is joining Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles after spending six years at Aurillac.

Bester has been spending his time coaching in Italy and comes in for what is thought to be one season.

In addition to his time at Quins, the South African has previously coached at Ballymena and Rotherham.

Belfast Telegraph

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