Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has signed a new extended contract to remain with the province until at least 2025.
The Englishman was under contract until the end of next season, however Ulster have moved quickly to tie him down to a longer-term deal to ward off the interest of other potential suitors.
There were rumours that McFarland’s former side, Glasgow Warriors, were keen on bringing him back to fill the same role after the departure of Danny Wilson, however this ends any fears he will head elsewhere.
McFarland took over at Ravenhill in 2018 after Jono Gibbes’ exit and has since led the team to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup in three of his four seasons in charge, as well as the Guinness PRO14 final in 2021.
Silverware has eluded the 50-year-old, however, with Leinster defeating them in that PRO14 final at the Aviva Stadium, while a huge chance to win the Challenge Cup went begging as they lost their semi-final to the Leicester Tigers.
Last season in particular ended in heartbreak with narrow defeats in the Heineken Champions Cup last-16 to Toulouse and then the United Rugby Championship semi-finals against the DHL Stormers.
McFarland has overseen the rise of players such as Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Mike Lowry and Nick Timoney into Irish internationals, and now he will hope he can turn that promise into a trophy.
“I am delighted to have extended my contract with Ulster Rugby, and I would like to thank (chief executive) Jonny Petrie for all his support over the last four years,” said McFarland, who now holds the record for the most games in charge as head coach of the province.
“I love my job here, which is only possible because of the good people I get to work with. It is through the growth, competitiveness, and teamwork of the support team and the players that we continue to compete for championships.
“However, the fact remains our ultimate goal is to win championships. I am looking forward to driving the process of finding, guiding, and supporting the people capable of doing that for this province and its passionate supporters, who truly share in our joy and pain.
“The challenge ahead is immense but that is why it is so exciting. For me, it has the feel of unfinished business.”
Petrie added: “I couldn’t be more pleased that Dan has chosen to extend his stay with us – I think that it’s really clear the impact that he has had on the club since joining, both on and off the pitch.
“We’ve made some impressive progress as a squad over the past couple of years, with play-off rugby against the best teams in Europe, and beyond, now a regular occurrence.
“Dan and I both see the clear potential here over the next few years and I look forward to continuing to build together on those ambitions for Ulster.”