Kidney commits to Exiles as drop beckons
Declan Kidney insists he wants to stay on at London Irish even if the Exiles now suffer a second Aviva Premiership relegation in three years.
League leaders Exeter thumped Irish 45-5 in Reading yesterday, leaving Kidney’s side nine points adrift with just 10 to play for.
Former Ireland boss Kidney and ex-ulster coach Les Kiss were drafted in to try to save Irish’s season, but now the Madejski Stadium outfit appear destined for the drop again.
Kidney has signed a twoyear deal at Irish, and wants to stay on next term, even if the Exiles drop back down to the Championship.
“I was asked to come on board as technical director for a period of time and that’s what I’m doing now,” said Kidney. “I’ve enjoyed working here and, if we can help the other coaches, players and the club come along, then that’s what we want to keep doing, but we’ve got a situation where we’ve got a cup final in two weeks’ time, so the short-term goal is the only goal that needs to occupy our mind, and that’s what we’re fully focused on.
“I’ve enjoyed being back in rugby and, if it suits the players, we can have a chat about it, but that’s the plan.”
Meanwhile, departing Australian Sevens coach Andy Friend is the latest to be linked to the Ulster head coach position when current tenant Jono Gibbes finishes his short stint at the end of May.
The 48-year-old Friend was surprisingly stood down after only 18 months on the job. Rugby Australia had said back in March that his contract, which is due to expire in July, would be not be renewed. The Wallaby squad finished fifth in the Commonwealth Games at the weekend.
It is also widely rumoured that Friend could bring with him former Wallaby fly-half Christian Lealiifano. The 30-year-old, who had a successful five-month loan spell with Ulster at the beginning of the season was lauded by the fans at Ravenhill, not only for the way he fought back from leukemia, but the manner in which he went about his task.
He returned to Australia in January to play in the Super Rugby campaign for the Canberra-based Brumbies, who again named him as captain.
That would obviously fill the big hole in Ulster’s artillery now that both Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are moving on.
“For some, the very fact that Irish professional players may need dedicated programmes on respectful relationships, the meaning of consent, etc, will be seen to reflect badly on Irish sport