Wokingham Today

Exiles bring in new coaching team


LONDON IRISH have announced the arrivals of Declan Kidney and Les Kiss as part of a huge coaching shake-up in a bid to restore the Exiles to their former glories.

Irish look set for an immediate return to the Championsh­ip, sitting bottom of the Premiershi­p with just two wins all season and 12 points adrift of safety.

Director of rugby Nick Kennedy took charge when the club slipped into the second tier in 2016 and successful­ly guided them to promotion at the first attempt.

But this season has proved a struggle and while he will stay on in a coaching capacity alongside the current team of Declan Danaher, Paul Hodgson and George Skivington, technical director Brendan Venter, who was working on a part-time basis, has departed.

His replacemen­t on the technical side is Kidney (pictured above) while Kiss comes in as head coach as the duo reunite after working together with Ireland, winning the Grand Slam in 2009.

They take over with immediate effect and will remain in place regardless of what league Irish are competing in next season.

“In order to achieve the objectives we have set for the club we need to make changes in the coaching structure to give us the best chance for success,” said Exiles president and majority shareholde­r Mick Crossan.

“The current coaches under Brendan Venter have worked very hard to consolidat­e our position in the Aviva Premiershi­p but it is fair to say that things haven’t gone to plan.

“Our young coaching team under Nick Kennedy have worked tirelessly and have built a great team spirit, despite the disappoint­ing run of league results.

“We feel that the time is now right to bring in someone to replace Brendan and to work with the current coaches to give us a new direction.”

As well as their success with Ireland, Kidney and Kiss both have experience at club level, notably with Munster in the Heineken Cup.

“Declan and Les have a great working relationsh­ip and huge experience of what it takes to be successful in elite rugby,” said chief executive Brian Facer.

“Declan is a legend of Irish rugby and Les’ experience in senior coaching positions with the national squads of South Africa and Ireland, together with his roles at New South Wales and Ulster, will be invaluable in helping London Irish re-establish itself as a force in the Aviva Premiershi­p.”

The duo’s first match in charge will be the St Patrick’s Party against Gloucester on Saturday, March 24.

For more on this story, see The Sports Paper inside.

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