Declan Kidney and Les Kiss take over at London Irish
Kidney installed as director of rugby while Kiss will act as head coach
Declan Kidney and Les Kiss worked together with Ireland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Kidney has been appointed as technical director, succeeding former Springbok Brendan Venter, who was in the position since 2016, while Kiss has been appointed as head coach. Kidney and Kiss have agreed three-year contracts that will remain in place whether London Irish, currently languishing 14 points adrift of the Worcester Warriors at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership, are relegated or not.
The 58-year-old Kidney, who has been director of sport at UCC since 2013, previously led Munster to two Heineken Cup triumphs in 2006 and 2008 before taking over from Eddie O’Sullivan as Ireland coach in 2008, a tenure that lasted until 2013 when he was replaced by Joe Schmidt.
Kidney said of his appointment: “It is a club which has a history of producing quality young players and there appears to be a group of coaches with plenty of promise, and an off-field management team which is putting everything in place for a bright future.
“I am under no illusion that this is going to be a challenging job. I’m particularly excited to be working with Les Kiss again. We had a great relationship with the Ireland national team and I know that he is the right person to join me on this journey. We can’t wait to get started.”
Kiss, who won three Six Nations titles as defence coach under Kidney and then Schmidt, joined the Ireland coaching team in time to contribute to the 2009 Grand Slam success and stayed with the national side until 2015. He took at Ulster on an interim basis before electing to take the director of rugby role on a full-time basis the following year until he left in January of this year by mutual agreement.
He said: “Declan is a great person to work with. It is a big job for us but one that we are relishing. There are some good coaches already at Hazelwood, the likes of Nick Kennedy, Declan Danaher, Paul Hodgson and George Skivington, who have all shown their commitment to the club for several years, and we believe that we will be able to help them reach their potential.”
The majority shareholder in the London Irish Mick Crossan explained: “In order to achieve the objectives we have set for the club we need to make changes in the coaching structure to give us the best chance of success.”