Wellington - New Zealander Tom Coventry has been appointed as the new head coach
of London Irish for the 2015-16 season, the English Premiership
strugglers announced on Wednesday.
The 48-year-old, who is currently assistant coach of New Zealand team
the Chiefs, will succeed former director of rugby Brian Smith, who has
been released early from his contract on compassionate grounds.
"The owners have a clear vision of where they want to take the club," Coventry told the London Irish website.
"It is a challenge I am immensely excited by and I cannot wait to get stuck in when I join.
"I have enjoyed my time with the Chiefs and will continue to do so
until it is time to go, but I think to stay fresh as a coach it is
important to immerse yourself in new environments, challenges and
experiences, which is what I am going to do."
Coventry has been at the Chiefs for four years, during which time the franchise have won two Super Rugby titles.
"Tom Coventry proved to be an outstanding candidate given his
individual character and rugby experience," said London Irish rugby
development director Bob Casey.
"He comes from the best rugby environment in the world where he has
had much success and worked with two of New Zealand's leading coaches in
Wayne Smith and Dave Rennie.
"It is a great coup for London Irish to secure a coach of Tom's calibre to lead our rugby programme over the coming seasons."
Former England attack coach Smith, 48, was released from his contract
on Tuesday for family reasons and is due to return to his native
Forwards coach Glenn Delaney has been placed in charge of the Exiles as interim head coach until the end of the season.
London Irish are currently second-bottom of the 12-team Premiership,
but have a 20-point advantage over bottom club London Welsh, meaning
they are effectively guaranteed to avoid relegation.
One of Coventry's first recruits is expected to be All Blacks prop Ben Franks, with New Zealand media reporting earlier this week the 41-Test veteran will leave to link up with the club after this year's World Cup in England.