Connacht have announced that they have appointed their former prop Dan McFarland as the province’s new forwards coach.
McFarland propped down for Connacht between 2000 to 2006 and in a short space of time, he has already carved out a solid coaching career for himself.
Last season he linked up with his former team-mate Eric Elwood to guide the Ireland Under-20 team to Six Nations and Grand Slam glory.
The 2006/07 season was certainly one to remember for the 35-year-old as he also guided Galway club Monivea to the Connacht Junior League title before they missed out on promotion in the AIB League Round Robin series.
“I’m very happy to take on the role of forwards coach. It’s a good step in my coaching career and to be able to have a lot more control over what the forwards do in training is exactly what I wanted,” explained McFarland, who was Connacht’s video analyst last term.
McFarland always had a high level of input into the westerners’ scrummaging and lineout training, so it was always felt that it would be a natural progression for the former Stade Francais player to move into coaching – not least as he was coaching the Connacht Under-21 team, alongside Nigel Carolan, in the final year of his playing career.
He was particularly encouraged by the displays of the Irish Under-20 players as they swept all before them earlier this year.
“I think certainly there was a lot of talented players in the Under-20 age group. They responded very well to coaching. We decided that we’d treat them as we treat the professional players here on a day-to-day basis, with a lot of regard for their own abilities, their own instincts, for keeping them fresh and ready to play.
“I think that played a big part of it. Plus we had a great time and really enjoyed it. I think that was the main thing and we had a great management team and everybody got on very well,” he said.
With a full-time commitment to the Connacht team this year, McFarland regrets that he is not able to coach Monivea for the coming campaign.
“I won’t be coaching outside of Connacht this season. I had a fantastic year coaching with Monivea RFC last year. In terms of my own development as a coach, I think it was huge. To take charge of a team for a whole year, be responsible for their hopes and dreams and guiding them towards an extremely difficult goal, I learned a lot from it and I’m very grateful that they gave me the opportunity to coach them.
“I can’t speak highly enough of everybody out in Monivea, it’s a fantastic club with huge ambition and I very much hope they achieve their goal this year.”