Leinster announce Leo Cullen as new head coach
‘Leo’s status as a player is beyond question - an outstanding captain and leader’
Leinster Rugby have this morning confirmed that Leo Cullen has been appointed as head coach on a two year deal. Photograph: Dáire Brennan/Sportsfile
The former Irish second row, who was appointed interim coach at the end of last season when Matt O’Connor departed, won 221 caps for the province and is a three time Heineken Cup winning captain. Cullen informed the players of his decision to accept the role on a full time basis at a meeting on Tuesday.
The former Blackrock College and Leinster Schools player also had a period of playing in England with Leicester Tigers before returning to his home side.
“Leo’s status as a player is beyond question. He is second only to Gordon D’Arcy in terms of senior appearances and he was an outstanding captain and leader on the pitch,” said Leinster CEO Mick Dawson.
“Over the last 12 months or so in his capacity with the forwards and indeed over the pre-season as interim Head Coach, Leo has continued to impress everyone at Leinster with his tactical and strategic direction.”
“It was a thorough and robust interview process and we took our time to ensure that this was the case. The process included the input of all relevant stakeholders, and ultimately Leo was the best candidate that we interviewed.”
As well as confirming Cullen as Head Coach, Leinster also confirmed the makeup of Cullen’s coaching team, which include a number of former Leinster players.
The former Leinster centre Kurt McQuilkin, had been on a short term arrangement and that has been extended to a two year contract as defence coach. As had previously been announced former front row, John Fogarty, is in place as provincial scrum coach and Girvan Dempsey is in on a short term contract as backs coach until after the Rugby World Cup.
Richie Murphy who is currently with the national team as they continue their RWC preparations will rejoin the Leinster Rugby set up as skills and kicking coach post Ireland’s involvement in the tournament.
Cullen’s first game in charge will be Friday’s pre-season friendly against Ulster Rugby in the Kingspan Stadium. His first home game will be the pre-season friendly against Moseley in Donnybrook Stadium on Friday, 28th August at 7.30pm.
His first competitive fixture is away to Edinburgh Rugby in the Guinness Pro12 on Friday 4th September followed by his first home RDS Arena fixture a week later against the Cardiff Blues on Saturday 12th September.
- Leo Cullen Factfile:
Born: 9th January 1978
Leinster Debut: v Connacht (October 1998)
Leinster Caps: 221
Leinster Captain: 2008-2014
Leinster Honours: Three Heineken Cup titles, one Amlin Cup and four Celtic League/Pro12 titles
Leicester Debut: v Northampton Saints (September 2005)
Leicester Caps: 56 (15 as captain)
Leicester Honours: Guinness Premiership title and EDF Energy Cup winner
Ireland Debut: v New Zealand (June 2002)
Ireland Caps: 32 (He became the 100th player to captain Ireland in August 2011 against Scotland)