Leinster Rugby and the IRFU have announced Leo Cullen as head coach of the province on a two-year deal.
Leo Cullen, who won 221 caps for Leinster and is a three-time Heineken Cup winning captain with the province, had already been in charge on an interim basis following the departure of Matt O’Connor at the end of last season.
He informed the players of his decision to accept the role on a full time basis at a meeting this morning.
Commenting on the appointment, Leinster Rugby CEO, Mick Dawson said: “We are delighted that Leo has agreed to become our head coach and to continue an association with Leinster Rugby that started back in 1995 with the Schools team. We are all very much looking forward to the next two years under his tutelage.”
Dawson outlined some of the reasoning behind the appointment and what made Cullen such an outstanding candidate.
“Leo’s status as a player is beyond question. He is second only to Gordon D’Arcy in terms of senior appearances and he was an outstanding captain and leader on the pitch. Over the last 12 months or so in his capacity with the forwards and indeed over the pre-season as interim head coach, Leo has continued to impress everyone at Leinster with his tactical and strategic direction.”
The Leinster Rugby CEO also gave some indication as to the recruitment process involved, adding: “It was a thorough and robust interview process and we took our time to ensure that this was the case. The process included the input of all relevant stakeholders, and ultimately Leo was the best candidate that we interviewed.”
As well as confirming Cullen as head coach, Leinster also confirmed the make-up of Cullen’s coaching team.
Kurt McQuilkin’s short-term arrangement has been extended to a two year contract as defence coach. As had previously been announced, John Fogarty is in place as provincial scrum coach and Girvan Dempsey is in on a short-term contract as backs coach until after the Rugby World Cup. Richie Murphy, who is currently with the national team as they continue their World Cup preparations, will rejoin the Leinster Rugby set up as skills and kicking coach post-Ireland’s involvement in the tournament.
“This is an exciting time for Leinster Rugby,” explained Dawson. “We have great talent coming through our Sub and full Academy. We had 25 players called up to provisional World Cup squads and we have signed players during the summer that our supporters can get really excited about.
“I am sure I echo everyone’s sentiments when I wish Leo and the lads the very best of luck over the coming season.”
Cullen’s first game in charge will be Friday’s pre-season friendly against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium. His first home game will be the Bank of Ireland pre-season friendly against Moseley RFC at Donnybrook Stadium on Friday, August 28 (kick-off 7.30pm).
His first competitive fixture is away to Edinburgh in the GUINNESS PRO12 on Friday, September 4, followed by his first home RDS fixture a week later against Cardiff Blues on Saturday, September 12.