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Dan McFarland confirmed as new Ulster head coach

Dan McFarland is on his way to Ulster.
Dan McFarland is on his way to Ulster.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Ulster's new Head Coach has been confirmed as Dan McFarland.

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The province confirmed the announcement on Monday saying he will leave his role as assistant coach to the Scottish team, taking up a three-year contract beginning next season.

It is understood that the timing of McFarland's arrival is still to be confirmed, with a nine-month notice to be served at Scottish Rugby, lasting until mid-January.

In this morning's Belfast Telegraph, rugby correspondent Jonathan Bradley suggested that McFarland was the most 'intriguing name' in the guessing-game over who will succeed Jonno Gibbes.

Speaking after the province's draw with Munster on Saturday evening, Operations Director Bryn Cunningham revealed that the side's next Head Coach has been signed up to arrive at Kingspan Stadium but added he would not be in a position to confirm the appointment for a number of weeks.

After this morning's reports linking McFarland with the job, Scottish Rugby announced that he will leave his role as Assistant Coach with the national side in mid-January "to take on a Head Coach opportunity".

Scottish Rugby also confirmed that current Worcester Head Coach Carl Hogg had been brought in to share forwards-coaching duties with the outgoing McFarland.

Dan said: "I am really excited that I will be taking on the Ulster Head Coach role. 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."

Bryn Cunningham, Ulster Rugby's Operations Director said: "Dan was our number one candidate so we're obviously very happy to have secured his services for the next three years. 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."

Shane Logan, Ulster's Chief Executive, 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."

Jonno Gibbes took over the lead coaching role at Ulster when Les Kiss departed the province at the end of January. However, it was then announced that Gibbes will return to his native New Zealand this summer to be closer to an undisclosed family situation.

McFarland has a long association with rugby on these shores having played and coached at Connacht for well over a decade and also been a part of staffs for the under-20s, Wolfhounds and Emerging Ireland.

McFarland left Ireland to become Assistant Coach at Glasgow in 2015 and was named Scotland assistant in May last year.

As a player, he played at loosehead prop, picking up over 100 caps for Connacht in a six-year spell from 2000.

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