Munster have appointed New Zealand U-20 coach Rob Penney as their new head coach on a two-year contract.
The 48-year-old will replace Tony McGahan who is stepping down after four years in the job.
As well as being in charge of the New Zealand U-20 team, Penney has been head coach of Canterbury since 2006, and he beats off stiff competition from Munster legend Anthony Foley for the top job. Foley will continue as forwards coach but there is expected to be change in the rest of the management team which won’t be finalised unter after consultation with Penney.
Commenting on the appointment Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said: “ We conducted a thorough search to find a replacement for Tony McGahan and were delighted with the calibre of the candidates. Rob Penney’s record speaks for itself and we look forward to welcoming him to Munster.”
Penney guided Canterbury to their fourth straight ITM Cup national provincial title last season. He also has Super Rugby coaching experience with the Crusaders where he was assistant coach in 2005 when they won the Super 12 title and he has maintained his involvement with the Crusaders as Development Squad Coach.
A former Canterbury Academy Manager, Penney will coach the New Zealand U-20 side during next month’s IRB Junior World Championship in in South Africa, and he is expected to arrive in Munster in mid July for the start of a two year contract subject to obtaining a valid work permit.
Penney leaves Canterbury with the reluctant best wishes according to Canterbury Rugby Football Union CEO Hamish Riach. “Rob has been a great servant for Canterbury rugby. We are very sorry to lose a talented coach, but this is a fantastic opportunity for him and we wish him all the best.”
Meanwhile, Munster play Ulster in Thomond Park this Saturday, May 5, in their final home league game of the season. Munster need to win to confirm their place in the RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final but a home clash looks out of reach. The semi-finals are fixed for the following weekend, May 11/12, and Munster could be set for an Aviva Stadium showdown with Leinster or a trip to Wales to play the Ospreys.
FOR MORE ON ROB PENNEY’S APPOINTMENT SEE THE PRINT EDITION OF THIS WEEKEND’S LIMERICK LEADER