London Irish have announced the signing of Les Kiss and Declan Kidney as head coach and technical consultant respectively with immediate effect.
The Premiership strugglers have captured the signature of former Ireland and Ulster coach Les Kiss, who will take up his role as head coach with immediate effect.
Declan Kidney will also be joining Irish immediately as a technical coaching consultant in the side's efforts for an end of season push to retain Premiership status but will remain with the side whether they are playing in the Green King IPA Championship or Aviva Premiership next season.
The news of the experienced duo joining the exiles comes following the departure of Brendan Venter, who has ended his time as a part-time consultant with Irish.
Kidney is one of Irish Rugby's most decorated and experienced coaches, having lead Munster to two European titles and a further two finals in the Champions Cup. He also lead Ireland to their first Grand Slam in 61 years during the 2009 Six Nations, earning the World Rugby Coach of the Year award for his efforts.
Since 2013, Kidney has been the Director of Sport and Physical Activities at University College Cork in Ireland and will be making his return to the professional game.
Kiss is also a highly experienced coach with plenty of pedigree, having lead the NSW Waratahs to two Super Rugby finals during his time in Australia. The former Ulster boss also spent time working alongside Kidney as Ireland's defence coach, a position he had previously held with the Springboks during the 2001/02 season.
Kiss and Kidney spent five years together in the Ireland set-up from 2008 to 2013, with the former going on to win two back-to-back Six Nations titles alongside current Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.
Mick Crossan, London Irish’s president and majority shareholder commented: “The current coaches under Brendan Venter, who has occupied a part-time technical director role with the club since summer 2016, have worked very hard to consolidate our position in the Aviva Premiership following promotion last year, 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 that followed the opening day victory over Harlequins at Twickenham in the London Double Header.
“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. Declan will bring a winning mentality to London Irish, something he has shown over a number of years by winning the Heineken Cup twice with Munster and the Grand Slam with Ireland, which he achieved working with Les Kiss as his assistant coach in 2009.”
Kidney is relishing the opportunity of coaching London Irish, a club he says has massive potential.
“London Irish is a club with a proud and rich tradition, both in London and in Ireland, and I had no hesitation in agreeing to join the team at Hazelwood,” said Kidney.
“It is a club which has a history of producing quality young players, and there appears to be a group of coaches with plenty of promise, and an off-field management team which is putting everything in place for a bright future.
“I’m under no illusions that this is going to be a challenging job. English club rugby is very competitive, and it is going to take several years for us to cement a place at the top end of the Aviva Premiership, but I believe that with the right structures this becomes a realistic ambition for us.
“I’m particularly excited to be working with Les Kiss again. We had a great relationship with the Ireland national team and I know that he is the right person to join me on this journey.
Kiss joined Kidney in expressing his excitement about rekindling the coaching partnership.
“Declan is a great person to work with, and I’m looking forward to joining him at London Irish,” he said.
“It is a big job for us, but one we are relishing. There are some good coaches already at Hazelwood, the likes of Nick Kennedy, Declan Danaher, Paul Hodgson and George Skivington, who have all shown their commitment to the club for several years, and we believe that we will be able to help them reach their potential.”