Mark Anscombe has signed a one-year contract extension with Ulster Rugby, meaning that he will be head coach of the province until at least the summer of 2015.
Mark Anscombe joined Ulster in the summer of 2012 and started his tenure by guiding the team through a 16-match unbeaten run.
In that first season he went on to lead the side to the final of the RaboDirect PRO12 and the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup. He became the first Ulster head coach to win in France when the province beat Castres Olympique 9-8 in January 2013.
This season he has led the team to an Ulster record six wins out of six in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup, including memorable victories over Montpellier in France and Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
The Ulstermen will play Saracens in early April in their first home Heineken Cup quarter-final in 15 years.
As well as delivering results, Anscombe has also added considerable depth to the Ulster squad, using more than 50 different players in his 18 months in charge.
Speaking about the extension to his contract, the New Zealander said: “I have enjoyed my time at Ravenhill so far. We have made good progress, we have a great squad and some excellent young players coming through, so I am pleased to be committing for a further year.
“I said when I started at Ulster that I believed that this would be a three-year project. We are halfway through that now. We have a home Heineken Cup quarter-final and we are competing for a play-off place in the RaboDirect PRO12 once again.
“My focus over the next year-and-a-half will be to finish the job that I have started and to bring some silverware back to Ravenhill.”
Ulster’s director of rugby David Humphreys commented: “Over the past 18 months, Ulster Rugby has made huge progress on and off the pitch. Through his coaching, knowledge of the game and experience, Mark Anscombe has taken team performance to a new level and we are delighted he has committed to the province for a further 12 months.
“It is an exciting time to be part of Ulster Rugby. The redevelopment of Ravenhill is almost complete, we are in a home Heineken Cup quarter-final and our representation in the Ireland squad is growing.
“We believe that Mark is the right person to deliver immediate success through winning trophies and also long-term success through the development of future Ulster and Ireland players.”