Ulster Rugby today confirmed that Mark Anscombe has been appointed as head coach on a two-year contract, starting from the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
Anscombe has just finished a three-year term as head coach of the Auckland ITM Cup side and has combined that role with a number of positions in the very successful New Zealand U20 squad.
Last year, he was head coach as they again triumphed in the Junior World Championships in Italy.
“It has been a long and detailed process but we’re now delighted to confirm that Mark will be joining us next season.” commented Ulster’s Director of Rugby David Humphreys.
“We all believe that he has the experience, ability and knowledge to build on the success of the last two years.
"We were all very impressed with Mark during the interview process, he know what it takes to get the best out of players and has an in-depth understanding of the game.
"He has strong leadership qualities and will challenge both the players and staff in ways some of them haven’t been challenged before.
"As well as an experienced head coach, he is a high quality technical forwards coach with a proven track record of delivering competitive, physical forward packs.
"He will be instrumental in developing some of the young forwards already in our system to ensure they become key players for both Ulster and Ireland."
Anscombe commented: "I’ve been keeping an eye on Ulster for a while now and I’m very impressed with the plans and what’s happening at Ulster Rugby and I’ve very excited about the prospect at being involved in that.
"It goes without saying that the job will present me with an exciting challenge.
"Ulster have been developing over the past few years, they’ve had some new players come in to strengthen the squad so the foundations are there but there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of moving on to the next stage and that will be a challenge for me and for all of us."
Anscombe is familiar with both John Afoa and Jared Payne who he has worked with at Auckland.
“They’re both good men with a lot to offer," he added. "In the short time that John has been at Ulster he’s already impressed the rugby public there. Jared was very unfortunate with the Achilles injury but I’m sure if he had remained fit they would have been singing his praises also.
"David (Humphreys) has recruited well so far, he’s brought in quality people and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Anscombe will arrive in Belfast on 1 June.