Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan and Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree during the Heineken Champions Cup match against Exeter Chiefs. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Rowntree to lead Munster Rugby

Munster Rugby Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree has been a popular announcement as the new Head Coach of Munster.

Announced On Tuesday, Munster Rugby and the IRFU confirmed his promotion to the role from 1 July after signing a two year deal. The rest of his management team are yet to be appointed.

Popular with the players, some fans hailed the appointment of the former England prop as someone who understands Munster Rugby, its culture and its values. He joined Munster in October 2019 after working with Georgia at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Graham said he and his family have put down roots in Limerick and have no desire to move anywhere else.

Rowntree said he is hugely honoured to be taking over the role of head coach “for a club of this calibre, one that means so much to me and my family”.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed every moment here and I fortunately get to work with an incredible group of staff and players who share a common goal each day in striving for success for this club. I’ve talked about our fantastic supporters before and again at the weekend, we stepped off the bus to a huge red welcome in Exeter. Who doesn’t want to be part of that, that’s special!

“I believe we have the established structures in place with the resources and facilities to match and that it will be a smooth transition for the coaching ticket we assemble in ensuring continued development and success for this club.

“Before then I have a role to complete this season and working closely with Johann, Steve, and JP is the immediate focus and priority for now.”

Rowntree is the only member of the current coaching team to stay in place with Head Coach Johann van Graan, Senior Coach Stephen Larkham, and Defence Coach JP Ferreira all departing at the end of June. The IRFU and Munster Rugby are working to secure the rest of the backroom team for next season.

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora said: “It is important that Munster have someone who understands the unique history and culture of the club and has the experience to maximise the talent in the squad. Graham has demonstrated he has the capabilities to spearhead the next chapter of Munster Rugby.”

Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan added that Graham’s extensive coaching experience and knowledge for the game make him “the perfect candidate to lead this squad forward. With Graham stepping up at the start of the new season it will be a seamless and natural progression from the work that has been carried out to-date.”

Munster face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in a crucial Champions Cup Round of 16 tie at Thomond Park at 3pm. They trail 13-8 from the first leg.