ULSTER HAVE APPOINTED New Zealander Mark Anscombe to replace Brian McLaughlin as head coach at Ravenhill.
The 54-year-old Kiwi is due to arrive in Belfast on 1 June after agreeing a two-year deal which runs until the end of the 2013/2014 season.
Anscombe coached the New Zealand U20s side in 2011 and led the “Baby Blacks” to their fourth successive IRB Junior World Championship. In November, he parted ways with Auckland after three seasons in charge.
Former Ulster hooker Matt Sexton and ex-Gloucester coach Dean Ryan were also shortlisted for the position, BBC Sport reports, but Director of Rugby David Humphries feels they’ve got the right man to build on Ulster’s recent success.
“We were all very impressed with Mark during the interview process,” Humphries said on the team’s official website.
“He know what it takes to get the best out of players and has an in-depth understanding of the game. He has strong leadership qualities and will challenge both the players and staff in ways some of them haven’t been challenged before.
As well as an experienced Head Coach, he is a high quality technical forwards coach with a proven track record of delivering competitive, physical forward packs. He will be instrumental in developing some of the young forwards already in our system to ensure they become key players for both Ulster and Ireland.
Ulster’s plans for the future are very impressive, Anscombe said this afternoon.
“Ulster have been developing over the past few years. They’ve had some new players come in to strengthen the squad so the foundations are there but there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of moving on to the next stage and that will be a challenge for me and for all of us.”
McLaughlin took charge of Ulster in 2009, replacing Matt Williams. Under him, Ulster have qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in the last two seasons.
Last month, Ulster confirmed that they would not be extending McLaughlin’s contract, with the 52-year-old set to take up a new role with the academy development squad from next season onwards.