DAN McFARLAND will leave the role of Scotland assistant coach after working a nine month notice period up to January of next year, whereafter he is expected to take over as head coach of Ulster.
Former Scotland back-row and current Worcester Warriors head coach, Carl Hogg, has been added to the national team coaching set-up on an interim basis, and will share forwards-coaching duties with McFarland on the 2018 summer tour to Canada, USA and Argentina.
“McFarland, who joined the Scotland coaching team from Glasgow Warriors in 2017, will remain in post for a nine-month notice period as the recruitment process for his replacement gets underway,” said a statement issued by the Scottish Rugby Union this [Monday] lunchtime.
It was announced at the start of March that current Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes would leave the position at the end of the season to return to New Zealand to be closer to an undisclosed family situation, and speculation has been rife as to who will take over at the province. Ulster have not had its troubles to seek in recent months, most notably with the rape trial – and subsequent acquittal – of star players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, who have since had their contracts terminated.
Saturday evening’s draw with Munster brought the curtain down on a frustrating season for Ulster as it meant Edinburgh qualified for the PRO14 play-offs ahead of the Northern Irishmen, and the need to get some good news out there was perhaps the driving factor behind operations director Bryn Cunningham announcing this morning that a new head coach has been appointed before he was able to confirm that individual’s identity.
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“We have the coach lined up, signed and agreed, our No 1 candidate, so we’re obviously very happy within Ulster and the IRFU,” said Cunningham. Unfortunately, we’ll not be in a position to announce that for potentially another few weeks. As a group, we’re obviously happy that it has been put to bed because it was such a big thing for us.
“At this stage of the season with everything going on, it was really important that we got a bit of solidity around what’s going on with Ulster next season and for the next few years.”
McFarland, who is 46, was born in Oxfordshire and started his senior career playing loose-head prop for Richmond and was at the club as it turned professional in 1996, before moving to France to play for State Francais in 1999. The following season he joined Connacht and had six seasons there as a player, followed by nine more as a coach. In 2015, he replaced Shade Munro as Glasgow Warriors forwards coach, and then followed Gregor Townsend into the Scotland set-up last summer.