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Felipe Contepomi to leave Leinster set-up after ‘brilliant opportunity’ to return to Argentina as Pumas’ assistant coach

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Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, right, and backs coach Felipe Contepomi arrive before a squad training session at UCD in Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, right, and backs coach Felipe Contepomi arrive before a squad training session at UCD in Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, right, and backs coach Felipe Contepomi arrive before a squad training session at UCD in Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

After previously pouring cold water on the prospect, the lure of home has proved too alluring for Felipe Contepomi as confirmation arrived this morning that the Leinster assistant coach will reunite with his former boss Michael Cheika as the Pumas’ assistant coach.

This is a brilliant opportunity for me and for my family to return home but I would like to say how thankful I am to Leo Cullen and to Leinster Rugby for the opportunity to come back to Leinster and to Dublin over the last few years,” Cullen told the club’s official website this morning.

Despite the attempts to dampen the speculation, the move was always inevitable at the end of this season and Contepomi admitted as much this morning.

“It was an easy decision to come back to the club and I have loved every minute of my time here working with Leo and all the coaches and backroom team,” he added.

“Of course, I would also like to thank all the players that I have had the privilege and the pleasure to work with. My time as a coach has only added to the warmth and the love I have for the club from my time here as a player.

“While there have been great moments on the field, it is the memories and the friendships made off the field that I will take with me.

“There is still of course a huge end to the season to come and I hope to finish the season strong before heading home.

“This is a proud moment for me and for my family. The opportunity and the challenge presented by Michael Cheika and the UAR is one that excites me and I very much look forward to continuing my coaching journey back home.

“To be able to coach your country is special. There is no higher honour as a coach and I look forward to getting started in due course.

“Dublin and Leinster have been very good to me as a player and as a coach, and I will forever be grateful for all that we have achieved together.

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“But the time is right for me now to return home and I will leave with nothing but fond memories of a great club, great supporters and my home away from home.”

Contepomi joined the Leinster Rugby coaching team ahead of the 2018/19 season and has been a key figure in the three PRO14 titles won in that time.

Before that, he was, of course, a player with Leinster Rugby playing 116 times for the club and winning a Celtic League in 2008 and a Heineken Cup a year later.

Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen added, “It’s been a privilege for everyone at Leinster Rugby to have had the opportunity to work with Felipe over the last four seasons. He is a great character to have around and has made a huge contribution to so many areas of the club.

“We were all excited at the thought of ‘getting Felipe back’ to coach the group and he has definitely lived up to our hopes. He is a great tactician, and I am sure he will go on to enjoy an outstanding coaching career.

“Of course, we will miss Felipe but everyone understands the opportunity to return to Argentina to take up an exciting new role, plus the draw of being closer to family.

“This day was always likely to come but for me, the memories are only good ones as we celebrate the successes we have shared. Hopefully, we can add to those by finishing this season as strongly as possible.

“On behalf of everyone at Leinster, I would like to wish Felipe, Sofia and the rest of the Contepomi family all the best for the future. They will always have the warmest of welcomes here in Dublin and who knows, maybe there will be a ‘third coming’ down the line!”

Having joined Leinster Rugby as a player in 2003, the gifted back became a firm favourite with the RDS faithful, and during his time with Leinster he was also nominated for the IRB Player of the Year Award in 2007 following stellar performances for club and country.

Internationally he won 87 caps for Argentina and was a key member of the team that finished third in the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

In 2017, he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame and this news sees him return back home where he last worked in Buenos Aires with the Argentinian Rugby Union as Head Coach of the Argentina XV for 2017/18 and with the Jaguares in Super Rugby.


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