United Rugby Championship

Strong Candidates Emerge For Vacant Ulster Rugby Head Coaching Role

Strong Candidates Emerge For Vacant Ulster Rugby Head Coaching Role

Discover the contenders vying for Ulster Rugby's head coach role. Will Richie Murphy or Jared Payne lead the team forward? Find out more here.

Apr 25, 2024 by Philip Bendon
Strong Candidates Emerge For Vacant Ulster Rugby Head Coaching Role

The hunt for Ulster Rugby's next head coach continues, with speculation swirling and reports circulating. However, the Belfast Telegraph has learned that the rumoured appointment of South African Frans Ludeke may be premature.

At 56 years old, Ludeke is indeed among the candidates under consideration. However, recent developments have seen him commit to a new three-year contract with the Kubota Spears in the Japan Rugby League One. This commitment seemingly takes him out of contention for the Ulster role.

While there is speculation that the Irish Rugby Football Union potentially could cover the financial implications of Ludeke's contract, Ulster's current financial constraints make such a move highly unlikely.

Instead, the Belfast Telegraph suggests the top contenders for the position are Richie Murphy, the current interim head coach, and former Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions player Jared Payne.

Murphy, having assumed the interim role for over a month, appears to have gained momentum. Initial reports indicate a positive relationship with the squad, positioning him as a strong internal candidate for the permanent position.

On the other hand, Payne boasts a decorated rugby career, with 20 caps for Ireland and a stint with the Lions. Following retirement, he transitioned into coaching, previously serving as Ulster's defence coach. Currently, Payne holds an assistant coaching role at the Scarlets, showcasing his commitment to coaching development.

Despite Murphy's modest start with just two wins in his initial five games, there is recognition that the challenges facing Ulster require a long-term strategy. Murphy has expressed eagerness to tackle this challenge head-on, indicating his willingness to take on the role permanently.

Payne's potential return to Ulster would mark a significant reunion. 

With his experience and reputation, he could inject fresh perspectives and strategies into the team, further bolstering Ulster's ambitions.

As the search for Dan McFarland's successor continues, Ulster Rugby faces a pivotal decision. Whether they opt for continuity with Murphy, or the experience and pedigree of Payne, the chosen candidate undoubtedly will shape the team's future trajectory.

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