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City Of Armagh Appoint Steenson As New Backs Coach

City Of Armagh Appoint Steenson As New Backs Coach

Gareth Steenson was a senior coach at Exeter Chiefs in recent years, helping them to win the Premiership Rugby Cup last season ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Following their first year in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A, City of Armagh RFC have moved to strengthen their coaching group for next season with the arrival at the club of Gareth Steenson.

Steenson, the former Ireland underage international and a legendary figure at Exeter Chiefs, will take up the role of Armagh’s backs coach, focusing on attack, with head coach Chris Parker moving to coach their defence.

Born just outside Armagh, he attended the city’s Royal School and furthered his education at Queen’s University Belfast. He played at out-half for the Ireland Under-19s and Under-21s, and gained All-Ireland League experience with Dungannon.

With limited opportunities at Ulster, Steenson moved to England to further his rugby career. He signed for Premiership club Exeter in 2008 where he spent 12 successful seasons, memorably winning two Premiership titles and a European Champions Cup.

He retired from playing in 2020 and has been part of Exeter’s coaching set-up since then. His 16-year association with the Devon club will shortly come to an end, following his recent announcement that he is relocating his family back home to Northern Ireland.

With his playing and coaching experience from the professional ranks, and his knowledge of the AIL and the domestic game, the 40-year-old will be a valuable asset for Armagh as they look to build on their top flight debut which saw them finish eighth in the table.

“I’m looking forward to being back involved with the club where it all started for me many years ago,” admitted Steenson, speaking about returning to his childhood club at the Palace Grounds.

“Having watched from afar, the recent progression of the club, I look forward to adding my experiences to the group that can hopefully bring further success to the club.”

Paul Johnston, City of Armagh RFC’s director of rugby, commented: “We are delighted to have Gareth join the senior coaching set-up here in Armagh.

“Gareth has enjoyed major success over the years, both as a player and more recently as a coach, and we look forward to benefiting from that experience over the coming season as the team looks to build upon the strong foundations that have been laid over recent years.”