The IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) are pleased to announce the appointment of Declan Danaher as the defence coach with the Ireland Women’s squad. He will join the Ireland coaching group in February, ahead of this year’s Guinness Women’s Six Nations campaign.
A former professional rugby union player at London Irish, making 275 appearances and also captaining the side, Danaher represented Ireland at Under-19 level, through the Irish Exiles, and went on to represent England with the Under-21 and ‘A’ teams.
He was the longest-serving player at London Irish in the professional era and, upon his retirement from the game, embarked on his coaching career.
Starting out coaching in the club’s Academy, he worked in the pathway developing Academy players for the senior team, before working his way up to defence coach and then held the role of assistant coach under Declan Kidney during his time at London Irish.
The combination of his long service to London Irish and strong Irish background, with his mother coming from Limerick and his father hailing from Kerry, means he is excited to get working with the Ireland Women.
Speaking about the appointment, Danaher commented:
I am proud to join the IRFU as the defence coach with the Women’s side for the Six Nations. I am very proud of my Irish heritage and excited to get working with this squad.
“I’ve seen how the system has been developing over the years and it’s an exciting time for the game in Ireland and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.
“I look forward to working with the players and coaches as we continue to build towards this year’s Six Nations.”
Greg Hollins (pictured below) will also join the Women’s management team for the Six Nations campaign, as athletic performance coach, working alongside Ed Slattery, Head of Athletic Performance.
Meanwhile, the IRFU are also pleased to confirm that Niamh Briggs has been appointed as head coach of the Ireland Under-20 Women’s squad.
Former Ireland Women’s captain Briggs will lead the Under- side, as they prepare for their summer series which will take place in July.
The Waterford native won 62 caps for Ireland and was an integral part of two Six Nations title-winning teams, including one as captain. Having also spent a season as assistant backs coach with the Ireland Women, she brings a wealth of experience and rugby intellect to the position.
As part of her coaching team, Briggs will also be joined by two assistant coaches, JP Walsh and Murray Houston. Walsh is the current Coach Development Officer with Connacht Rugby, while Houston is the Girls and Women’s Pathway Lead in Ulster Rugby.
Commenting on her new role, the former Ireland full-back and out-half said:
I am delighted to take on the role of head coach with the Under-20 side. I have gained valuable coaching experience from working with the Ireland Women’s team last season and through my role as the National Women’s Talent Coach for Munster.
“I am excited to get started, to work with JP and Murray and the rest of the management team, and to work with the players as we build towards their series taking place this summer.
“It’s going to be a busy and exciting couple of months, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for these young women as they achieve their dream of playing in green.”