DAN McFarland, the Connacht forwards coach, has agreed to take over the post which will be vacated by Shade Munro at Glasgow Warriors at the end of the season, writes Iain Morrison.
As The Scotsman reported on Wednesday, Glasgow had identified McFarland as the leading candidate to replace Munro who is leaving the Warriors after 12 years. He will cross the Irish Sea at the end of the current Guinness Pro12 season.
Connacht are currently sitting sixth in the league, above several teams with significantly bigger budgets and McFarland, who has been with the Irish province for 15 years as player and coach, must take some of the credit.
A former prop, McFarland’s expertise probably rests in the set piece trio of scrum, lineout and restart. It seems likely that the new coach will want to focus on the set scrum himself rather than farm it out to Italian Massimo Cuttitta who also works with the national squad. Edinburgh Rugby don’t use Cuttitta at the moment and if Glasgow go the same way then the Italian coach’s long relationship with Scottish rugby may be drawing to a close.
A classics scholar and educated at an English public school, McFarland is not perhaps a typical west coast of Ireland rugby man but he is thorough and hugely competitive by nature. No-one takes Connacht lightly and even Glasgow, who currently lead the league, only beat them by two miserable points last season.
While they have lost several high profile players in recent months – DTH van der Merwe, Niko Matawalu, Sean Maitland, Jon Welsh and Dougie Hall are among the names to be leaving at the end of the season – Glasgow have already announced the capture of London Irish breakaway Kieran Low and other names are expected to follow with wingers a priority.
Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend said parting company with Munro was the toughest decision he has had to take in his coaching career. The former Scotland forward has worked with three different head coaches during his dozen years with the Warriors, beginning with Hugh Campbell, moving on to Sean Lineen and then Townsend.
During that time the Scotstoun club have evolved into genuine contenders for the Guinness Pro12 title.
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