Rainey Old Boys have announced the appointment of former Leinster, Zebre, Benetton and Italy out-half Ian McKinley as the club’s first team head coach for the 2021/22 season.
The 31-year-old McKinley has built up a strong coaching CV alongside his playing career, and will take over the role from John Andrews at the Magherafelt outfit next season.
In a statement, the club said: “Rainey Old Boys RFC are delighted to announce the appointment of Ian McKinley as its 1st XV head coach for the 2021/22 season.
“Ian has previously played for UCD, St. Mary’s College, Leinster and the Ireland Under-20s before relocating to Udine in Italy to begin his coaching career in 2013.
“He resumed playing in 2014, using specially manufactured goggles which he pioneered that allowed him to play safely again following an accident in 2011 led to him losing the sight in his left eye.
“He spent the next six years playing in Italy for Zebre and Treviso, before winning the first of nine international caps for Italy in November 2017.
“Ian relocated from Treviso last summer to his wife Cordelia’s home village of Bellaghy. They welcomed baby Malachy to the family in December and have settled into the local area.
Ian arrived at Rainey last July as 1st XV backs coach and his impact was felt immediately by the team. Unfortunately, the season was brought to a premature end in October and he did not get to fully impart his blueprint and knowledge onto the squad.
“Following a detailed and in-depth recruitment process, he emerged as the leading candidate for the role and we look forward to seeing the impact he can have on our club both on and off the field.
“Ian is a highly driven and inspirational character having overcome many well documented challenges in his life, and we are sure that he will be a success at Rainey as he has been in both Ireland and Italy in his career before.”
Following his appointment, McKinley commented: “I’m delighted to start this new adventure as head coach of Rainey Old Boys. I’ve been very impressed with the set-up of the club in the time I have been with them.
“I’m sure everyone, like myself, are counting down the days until we can get the pitches open again and get people playing rugby.”
Rainey Old Boys President Dylan Davies remarked: “Ian has an innate ability to connect with players, building relationships that influence and develop them both on and off the pitch.”
Club Chairman Stevie Rutledge echoed Davies’ sentiments, adding: “Ian has the drive to match the ambitions of our club and together we hope to make great strides as a club.”
Rainey’s director of rugby Brian Smyth, who is now entering his sixth season in the position, noted: “We have had a huge amount of success as a club in the past five years, with several All-Ireland League promotions and our first ever Ulster Senior League title.
“Ian and I will certainly be working hard to continue our club growth and achieve further successes.”
Rainey Old Boys are excited to extend this partnership and continue to promote the development of rugby at all levels in mid-Ulster. They are looking forward to working with Ian to deliver the future they want for the club.