Connacht announce Andy Friend as their new head coach

‘An experienced head coach with insight into northern and southern hemisphere rugby’

Connacht and the IRFU have announced Andy Friend as the province's new head coach.

The Australian has signed a three year contract and will arrive in the Sportsground in late June to oversee preseason training for the 2018/19 season. Friend, who was believed to have impressed IRFU officials when interviewing for the Ulster head coach role, has extensive coaching experience at both club and international level.

His professional coaching career extends back to the advent of the professional game when he worked within the Australian Institute of Sport rugby programme in 1995.

He went on to hold assistant coaching positions at the New South Wales Waratahs and the Brumbies, where he worked as skills coach under Eddie Jones.


In 2005 he took up the head coach role with English Premiership side Harlequins for three seasons. He subsequently returned to the Brumbies as head coach where he remained until 2011. Friend also worked as a head coach in Japan for four seasons.

On the international stage he worked as part of Eddie Jones' Wallabies coaching team for the Tri Nations Series in 2002 and the Rugby World Cup in 2003. He guided the Australian Under-21 team to the final of the World Championships in 2005 and his most recent role was as head coach of the Australian sevens team.

After Thursday’s announcement Friend said he was excited to begin working with the squad at the Sportsground: “Connacht is a proud province with huge potential to build on the success of recent seasons. I look forward to meeting the players, staff, supporters and wider community when I arrive in the Sportsground ahead of the new season.”

Commenting on the appointment, CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane said: "Andy has a wealth of experience at international and club level and shares our ambition for Connacht Rugby over the coming seasons. He will arrive in the Sportsground at the end of June and will oversee the preseason training plan ahead of the 2018/19 season."

While performance director of the IRFU David Nucifora added: "Andy is an experienced head coach with insight into both northern and southern hemisphere club rugby through working in both the English Premiership and Super Rugby. He has experience in driving and developing organisation structures and has spent time working at the top end of the international game."