Richie Murphy confirmed as Ulster head coach on two year deal

Former Ireland U20 boss makes interim position permanent

Richie Murphy has been named interim head coach for Ulster Rugby until the end of the season following the departure of Dan McFarland after six years in charge.
Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.
Richie Murphy has signed a two-year deal as Ulster Rugby head coach Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.

Ending two months of speculation, Ulster Rugby have announced that Richie Murphy has signed a two year deal to become the permanent head coach of the province.

Murphy has served as interim head-coach for the last two months following the shock mid-season departure of Dan McFarland from the role in February.

The former Ireland U20 boss  has been in charge of seven games to date during temporary tenure, winning four and losing three with the side exiting the European Challenge Cup at the quarter-final stage.

Ulster are currently sixth in the United Rugby Championship standings and have won their last three league games in a row.

The announcement confirming the 54-year-old’s signature follows a bonus-point win over Welsh side Scarlets at the weekend.

The win will bolster the Ravenhill outfit’s drive towards a play-off place in the United Rugby Championship with games against Leinster and Munster still to come.

Before taking up the interim role with the northern province, Murphy had enjoyed success with the Ireland U20s, leading them to back-to-back Six Nations titles as head coach as well as involvement in the national set-up since 2013 with the men’s team as the skills and kicking coach.

Despite rumblings of other potential candidates in the mix for the top job, Murphy has consistently voiced his interest in remaining in the role.

After a challenging period of uncertainty and inconsistent performances, the Ulster hierarchy have seen enough recent progress to believe Murphy is the right man for the job.

Murphy’s experience in developing young talent may have been a factor in his appointment as Ulster prepare to shift towards a greater reliance on youth next season with a number of experienced players moving on at the end of the season.

Murphy has expressed his enthusiasm at taking the reins at Ulster:

“I’m looking forward to continuing with Ulster after a very enjoyable start to my time with the club. I would like to thank all of the support staff, especially Bryn Cunningham, for helping me settle in,” Murphy explains.

“Bryn has been a big part of this process, and I would like to thank him for all his efforts in getting us to this point.

“It’s no secret that I was keen to stay on in the role of Head Coach with the province, as I can see what is building here at Ulster and how I can contribute to growing that in the coming years.

“We have a very talented group at Ulster and, together with a loyal and dedicated supporter base, I’m relishing the opportunity to see what we can all achieve together.”

Speaking on Richie’s appointment, Interim CEO of Ulster Rugby, Hugh McCaughey, said:

“We are delighted at Ulster Rugby to have Richie committed to the province for the next two seasons.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we have had an insight into what Richie, the coaching staff and squad have the potential to achieve together, with today’s announcement providing the stability needed for this to continue.

“With a young squad, and a pipeline of talent coming through our Player Pathway, it’s an exciting time for the club as we look to build the foundations that will set us up for success in the years ahead. Richie has vast experience in developing young players and is ambitious to achieve success, so he is a perfect fit for what we need.”