Former Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has been appointed head coach of Canada's international rugby team.

The 59-year-old New Zealander takes over from long-serving Kieran Crowley and interim head coach Francois Ratier.

Ulster finished top of the Pro12 in Anscombe's first season in 2012/2013 before narrowly losing the final to Leinster. They lost the semi-final to the same opposition in his second and final season.

The northerners exited the European Cup at the quarter-final stage to Saracens in both of his seasons in charge.

He was replaced by then Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss in June 2014.

Before moving to Belfast, Anscombe also had a three-year spell as Head Coach of the Auckland ITM Cup side and in 2011, as head coach of New Zealand’s Under-20 Team, helped secure a fourth successive title at the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy.

Canada finished bottom of Pool D at the 2015 Rugby World Cup after defeats to Ireland, Italy, France, and Romania.

“It’s an exciting time for Canadian Rugby. There’s some work to be done, but the foundation is in place and I look forward to moving to Canada and working with all of the players, staff, board of Directors and provincial Unions to continue growing and developing the sport across the country,” said Anscombe.
“Qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup is in my bigger picture and hugely important for Canadian Rugby, but the key for any team, especially at this level, is developing depth and that’s going to be a big focus of mine moving forward.”

Canada are due to face Japan, Russia and Italy during their annual June International Series, with games set for 11 June in Vancouver, 18 in Calgary and 26 in Toronto.
For the first-time ever, Canada’s Men’s Fifteens Team will have a centralized, full-time program beginning in August at the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford, BC. Over 20 athletes will have access to a high-performance daily training environment, world-class coaching, sport science and medical facilities throughout the year to prepare for international competition.
“Although I’m still learning more about the program, having our top domestic athletes centralized in Langford starting in August will allow us to bring players together in a high-performance environment to build their skill levels, develop younger players and prepare for our key international fixtures,” added Anscombe.