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Pro14

Connacht confirm 9 departures and 2 contract extensions

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Hooker Shane Delahunt and centre Peter Robb have both extended their contracts with Connacht ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Delahunt joined Connacht through the academy in 2014 and made his debut for the province in September of that year. The 25 year old also featured in Connacht’s Championship winning season in 2015/16 while still an academy player. He has a total of 62 appearances for Connacht – 19 coming this season under current Head Coach Andy Friend.

Peter Robb is another player who featured in that PRO12 winning season when he made twelve appearances in total. The 24 year old has recovered from two long term injuries over the past two seasons and has featured in Connacht’s last four PRO14 games.

Announcing the latest contract extensions, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said:

“Shane Delahunt and Peter Robb are two players who are very much part of our plans as we finalise our squad for next season. Our ambition is to be regularly competing at the highest level and bring further success to Connacht Rugby. To do this we need real depth in our squad and players putting each other under pressure for places.”

Eoin Griffin has also announced that he will be retiring from rugby at the end of the current season. Griffin has made over 100 appearances for his native province, but his progress has been hampered by injury this season.

Meanwhile Craig Ronaldson, James Mitchell, James Connolly, Conan O’Donnell, Peter McCabe, Peter Claffey, James Cannon and Conor McKeon will all be leaving Connacht at the end of the current season. McKeon has been affected by injury and will be retiring from the game.

Commenting on the departures, Head Coach Andy Friend said:

“Eoin Griffin has been a fantastic servant of Connacht Rugby with over 100 appearances for his home province and we wish him the very best as he announces his retirement. The nature of professional rugby is that a player’s longevity at a club is finite. To all of those men who are leaving Connacht this season, a sincere thank you for all that you’ve given to the jersey. We wish you every success for the future.”

Connacht are not the only team having a bit of a clear-out. Edinburgh announced earlier this week that 7 players would be leaving, including 2 British & Irish Lions.

Contract update from Connacht Rugby

Pro14

PRO 14 Conferences Confirmed for Next Two Seasons

The PRO 14 have switched up the conferences for the next two seasons, but the Irish provinces remain in the same pairings

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(photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The PRO 14 conferences have been announced for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, with Glasgow Warriors and Leinster now in the same conference.

For the last two seasons Glasgow and Leinster have topped Conference A and Conference B respectively, even facing off in this season’s final, which the Irish province won 18-15.

It also means that while for the past two seasons they have both secured home semi-finals, the two will now battle for a single spot.

The other shift for the reigning champions is that they will move to Conference A and will be joined by Ulster.

That has left Munster and Connacht hopping over to Conference B.

Cardiff Blues and the Dragons have also swapped conferences for the upcoming season.

The interesting factors in the movements of the teams is that although they lost the final Glasgow were ranked as the top team, as it was based on the points gained during last season.

That also meant that Leinster, who qualified for the knock-out stage’s weeks before the end of the regular season were seeded in third as Munster had one extra point by the end of the season.

It all leaves Conference A looking a lot more competitive and gives other teams a chance to top Conference B and reach a home semi-final.

Conference A now contains Glasgow, Leinster, Ulster, Ospreys, Dragons, Zebre and the Cheetahs.

While Conference B features Edinburgh, Munster, Connacht, Cardiff, Scarlets, Benetton and the Kings.

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Pro14

It’s official. Stephen Larkham To Join Munster Rugby

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm Stephen Larkham will join the province as Senior Coach ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Larkham has signed with the province until June 2022, subject to obtaining a work permit, having spent the last four years working for Rugby Australia.

Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby Acting CEO Philip Quinn said: “We are very pleased to add Stephen to our coaching team and look forward to welcoming him to the province in August.

“Stephen’s values are very closely aligned with those of Munster and huge credit must go to the Professional Game Board and Johann for their work in bringing him to the province.

“Stephen is a very successful coach who had offers from other clubs so we are delighted that he has decided to join Munster.

“We now have a four-man coaching team with head coach Johann van Graan supported by senior coach Stephen, forwards coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach JP Ferreira.

“It has been our intention to recruit one more member for our coaching ticket and we will evaluate our needs prior to progressing with that process.”

Speaking about his move to Munster, Larkham said: “I am very excited and honoured to be joining Munster Rugby.

“A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community. I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.

“I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I’m very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar.

“I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with not only the other coaches in Graham and JP but also the very talented group of players that Munster have.”

Larkham’s coaching career began at the Brumbies in 2011 with the former Australia international elevated to the head coach role at the Super Rugby side within three years.

His success at the Brumbies led to Larkham’s appointment to the position of Wallabies attack coach on a part-time basis in 2015, a role he combined with his Head Coach duties at the Brumbies.

He held this role as Australia reached the Rugby World Cup final in 2015 and departed the Brumbies in 2017 to work full-time for Rugby Australia.

The post Stephen Larkham To Join Munster Rugby appeared first on Munster.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Pro14

There’s a job opening at Ulster Rugby. Could this be for Ruan Pienaar?

He certainly fits the criteria.

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Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Since the news broke that Ruan Pienaar had terminated his deal with Montpellier with one year remaining on his contract, Ulster fans have been excited at the thought of one of their favourite adopted sons returning to Belfast.

Many fans have already acknowledged that John Cooney has filled his boots superbly well and David Shanahan has made huge progressions since Pienaar left Irish soil but many fans are keen to see the former Springbok return to Belfast in some sort of role.

Well….. there happens to be a job opening at the Kingspan Stadium and we know one guy who certainly fits the job description.

“Elite Player Development Officer (EPDO) – Backs Specialist”

The job summary reads:

Ulster Rugby are currently inviting applications for the post of Elite Player Development Officer (EPDO) Backs Specialist.  Reporting to the Academy Manager, the post holder will assist Ulster Rugby with delivery of the National Talent Program in Ulster, with particular attention on back play, and ensuring vibrant development programs exist through which elite players are identified for Ulster & Ireland.

The successful candidate will have IRFU Level 2 (Stage 4) coaching qualification (or equivalent) attended, or working towards this as of the closing date and have experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway coupled with 2 years playing at an elite level or a minimum of 1 years’ experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway.

It is anticipated that interviews will take place on either the 1st or 2nd July 2019.  To apply, please download a detailed job description and person specification and complete the online application.  The closing date for completed application forms is no later than 9am on Friday 21st June 2019.

Digging into the full job description (which you can view here) there are a few other little hints that Ulster Rugby could have a particular someone in mind.

The successful candidate must have some specific experience.

“Experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway coupled with 2 years playing at an elite level;

or – A minimum of 1 years’ experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway

We’re maybe adding 2+2 and getting 5 but it’s been no secret that Pienaar has always been keen to return to Belfast and with his family moving back shortly after their move to France it’s clear that if a role at Ulster Rugby came up he could certainly be tempted.

With interviews set to take place on July 1st and 2nd, we won’t need to wait too long to see who the successful candidate is.

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