Connacht appoint Andy Friend as new head coach on three-year deal

Connacht have appointed Andy Friend as their new head coach on a three-year contract.

The Irish province sacked Kieran Keane earlier this month after a poor debut season where they finished second-bottom in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14 and missed out on Champions Cup qualification.

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Friend has been involved in coaching since rugby turned professional in 1995 and was part of Eddie Jones’ coaching team in 2003 when Australia reached the World Cup final.

The 49-year-old also had stints as head coach with Harlequins, the Brumbies and most recently Australia’s Sevens team.

“Connacht is a proud province with huge potential to build on the success of recent seasons,” said Friend.

“I look forward to meeting the players, staff, supporters and wider community when I arrive in the Sportsground ahead of the new season.”

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IRFU performance director 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.”