Ulster Rugby: Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland to become new Ulster head coach

McFarland has previous experience as a head coach of the Emerging Ireland side
McFarland has previous experience as a head coach of the Emerging Ireland side

Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland has agreed to become the next Ulster head coach on a three-year contract.

The province said it has secured its "number one candidate" but did not say when he will take up his new position.

Earlier, the Scottish Rugby Union announced the Englishman will leave his role in January 2019.

He must serve a notice period as the SRU searches for a replacement, with Worcester head coach Carl Hogg added to the set-up on an interim basis.

"I am really excited that I will be taking on the Ulster head coach role," said McFarland.

"I know first hand from my years visiting with Connacht and Glasgow the passion and fervour that makes playing in front of Ulster fans so special.

"It's a club with a great history and I welcome the challenge of being a part of their future."

Ulster were linked with a number of leading coaches after operations director Bryn Cunningham said a deal was "signed and sealed" on Saturday.

New Zealand women's coach Glenn Moore, ex-Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder and former Australia sevens coach Andy Friend were thought to have been in contention for the post.

McFarland is currently an assistant to Gregor Townsend but previously spent 15 years at Irish province Connacht, six playing as a prop forward and nine as an assistant coach.

The 46-year-old was also part of the staff with Ireland Under-20s, Wolfhounds and Emerging Ireland.

McFarland (right) has formed a successful partnership with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend
McFarland (right) has formed a successful partnership with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend

"Dan was our number one candidate so we're obviously very happy to have secured his services for the next three years," said Cunningham.

"Dan's CV is hugely impressive and he commands great respect within the game.

"He enjoyed successful spells with Connacht and Glasgow, and the fact that Gregor brought him into the Scotland set-up speaks volumes for how highly he rates him.

"Our priority in this process was to identify and recruit the best possible candidate first and foremost.

"With the confirmation of Dan's appointment, we will be announcing at least one further addition to the coaching team in the near future to ensure that we have a strong unit in place in advance of pre-season."

Current Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes will return to his native New Zealand at the end of the current season in which the team has failed to reach the Pro14 play-offs.

They are now likely to face Ospreys in a European Champions Cup play-off in three weeks.