Brendan Venter: London Irish name former player-coach in new set-up

Brendan Venter
Brendan Venter left Saracens as director of rugby in January 2011 to return to his native South Africa

Former London Irish player-coach Brendan Venter has returned to the club as part of a new backroom set-up.

He has been named technical director by the Exiles, who were relegated from the Premiership last season.

The 46-year-old previously held a similar role at Saracens, where he is also a former director of rugby.

Former Exiles player Nick Kennedy has been named Irish's director of rugby, while Clark Laidlaw has been appointed as assistant coach.

Meanwhile, former captain George Skivington and academy coaches Declan Danaher and Paul Hodgson will assist with coaching the senior squad next season.

Capped 17 times for South Africa at centre, Venter was part of the London Irish side which won the Powergen Cup in 2002, beating Northampton in the final at Twickenham.

His appointment follows the departure of head coach Tom Coventry and assistant coaches Grant Doorey and Richard Whiffin.

Coventry was unable to prevent the club from being relegated from English rugby's top flight for the first time since 1994 in his first season in charge.

Brendan Venter in 2002 Powergen Cup final
Venter helped London Irish win the 2002 Powergen Cup final at Twickenham

Venter, a qualified doctor, spent 16 months as Saracens director of rugby between July 2009 and January 2011, guiding the London side to the 2010 Premiership final.

"I have so many good memories and friends still at London Irish, which made for an easy decision to be part of the club going forward," he told the club website.

"The club has genuine ambition to compete in the Premiership and in Europe and has the foundations in place to enable it to do so."

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