THE IRFU have appointed Mark Butler as Munster talent coach, while Limerick native Colm Tucker has landed the role in Connacht.
The new talent coaches will support the identification and development of talented underage players in Ireland. The appointments are part of an ongoing strategic investment in the Player Pathway which is being driven by the IRFU's High Performance Unit under Performance Director David Nucifora.
Nenegh native and former Leinster player Trevor Hogan will be the provincial talent coach for Leinster.
Mark Butler has been working with Munster Rugby's underage representative teams since 2010 and has held the Head Coach role at both Thurles RFC and Cashel RFC (UBL). Since 2015, Butler has held the position of Head Coach for the Ireland U18 Tri-Nations squad.
Limerick man Colm Tucker has been working full-time as a Coach Development Officer at Connacht Rugby since May 2015. Previous to joining Connacht, he was head coach of UL Bohemians in the Ulster Bank League for four seasons and previous to that he held the head coach position at Shannon RFC.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, said: "Their (talent coaches) role is an investment on the IRFU's behalf into the game to make sure that we are working across all areas of the game to identify the best talent.
“There is one talent coach appointed per province and they will be working with the domestic rugby staff looking at kids from the age of 15 and 16 and to ensure that we have the best structures in place to be able to identify talent and bring that best talent into the development pathways.
“These coaches will then be mandated to help manage that talent through the pathway.
“We are trying to make sure we are as efficient as we can possibly be in the area of talent identification. A lot of the onus will be in the areas outside of the traditionally captured areas of talent.
“The Schools system is an obvious area of where we know where the talent is and we will continue to work with them but the role of the provincial talent coaches will be to work closely with clubs and other schools where rugby is not the main sport to make sure that we are actually identifying more potential talent that we can bring into the pathway to broaden the talent pool.
“It's a really exciting addition to our staff on the ground and something that I believe is going to add value over time for Irish rugby.”