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Friend To Continue As Connacht Coach With New Two-Year Deal

Friend To Continue As Connacht Coach With New Two-Year Deal

Canberra-born Andy Friend is determined to 'deliver on the real potential that exists' in the Connacht squad ©INPHO/Tom O'Hanlon

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to confirm head coach Andy Friend has signed a new two-year contract extension, keeping him at the Sportsground until the end of the 2022/23 season.

Friend is in his third season at the province, having joined in the summer of 2018 following head coach roles in Australia, England and Japan, and finally as head coach of the Australian Sevens side.

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In his first campaign Connacht reached the Guinness PRO14 play-offs, ensuring Heineken Champions Cup qualification in the process. Back-to-back Champions Cup qualification was secured during the shortened 2019/20 season, and the side currently sit in second place in Conference B of the PRO14.

Friend has also fully embraced Connacht Rugby’s commitment to the development of players coming through their grassroots system, handing professional debuts to 15 Connacht Academy players in less than three years.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane says Friend’s decision to remain at the province is a big boost for the organisation.

“Everyone at Connacht Rugby has been really impressed by what Andy has brought to the province in his three seasons here,” said Ruane.

“He has bought into everything we are trying to achieve and brings a positive culture and ethos to the entire organisation.

“Whilst Andy has been instrumental in helping our existing players become better players, he has also given our Academy players the opportunities to impress and in doing so enabled us to build the depth we require to succeed.”

Friend says he is thrilled to continue his role with Connacht Rugby, saying: “Ever since my wife and I moved to the west of Ireland I have been blown away by both the welcome we have received from the people here, as well as the pride they have for their province and for Connacht Rugby.

“It has been a really enjoyable time for both of us and it was an easy decision to commit to a further two years. There’s a hugely exciting few years ahead for Connacht, both on the field with the squad we have and off the field with the redevelopment of the Sportsground.

“I want to play my part in the next stage of this journey and I will do all I can to build on the progress we have made to date, and ensure we deliver on the real potential that exists within this group.”