Monday 25 March 2019

Leinster secure Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster for two more seasons, but John Fogarty is in demand

Stuart Lancaster, left, and Leo Cullen have signed new contracts with Leinster
Stuart Lancaster, left, and Leo Cullen have signed new contracts with Leinster

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Leinster will go forward with their Champions Cup winning coaching partnership of Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster for the next two seasons after the pair agreed new contracts.

The province announced that Cullen has signed a two-year deal with the IRFU, while the duration of Lancaster's extension has not been made public as per their club policy. However, independent.ie understands it will also run until 2021.

Lancaster has been linked with a role in Andy Farrell's Ireland coaching ticket after the World Cup, but he has opted to remain working at the provincial level.

However, Leinster could yet lose scrum coach John Fogarty to Ireland.

The former hooker's contract is up at the end of the season and sources indicate he has been identified by Farrell as the leading candidate to replace Greg Feek.

The province still hold out hope of retaining the popular former player beyond the end of the season but it remains to be seen if he will turn down the job within the national set-up or stay.

The retention of former captain Cullen and ex-England supremo Lancaster is a coup for Leinster, however, while Felipe Contepomi and Hugh Hogan remain in contract.

Although he was propelled into the role ahead of time and endured a difficult first season in charge, Cullen has proved a huge success as Leinster coach guiding the team to the 2017 European and PRO14 semi-finals before winning both competitions a year later.

Recruiting Lancaster ahead of the 2016/17 season has proven to be a masterstroke.

Although many saw the man who presided over England's 2015 World Cup disaster as damaged goods, Leinster identified him as the man who could help restore them to former glory.

Hugely respected by the players and his fellow coaches, he has rebuilt his reputation in his two and a half seasons in Ireland and is once again in demand.

"Leo's skills as a player and as a captain have been well celebrated over the years and rightly so," Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson told Leinsterrugby.ie

"Over the last four seasons he has continued to build on that legacy and has added considerable coaching credentials to his list of achievements. Not only did Leo oversee the great double success of last season, he also oversaw the rebuilding of the playing squad after a number of high profile retirements and the recruitment of the new coaching team.

"We have seen the impact Leo has had on the organisation both on and off the field and we are thrilled to see him commit for a further two seasons with the club.

"That level of continuity is crucial for the model that we have here at the club, a model that Leo not only believes in but is a product of.

"In his four seasons he has capped 43 new players with the majority of them coming from the 12 counties of Leinster.

"This season he has capped eight players from our Academy in the 54 players used across the Guinness PRO14 and the Heineken Champions Cup.

"This is an important announcement for the club and we are delighted to have our business done ahead of a crucial block of games for Leo, his staff and the players."

Dawson also paid tribute to Lancaster.

"Everyone can see that we have benefited from Stuart's vast experience working within the academy system in England plus of course his time with the English national team," he said.

"He has consistently shown his commitment to the Leinster cause and it is a real boost to retain the services of a world class coach."

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