Pro12: Mark Anscombe leaves Ulster ‘with immediate effect’

Pro12: Ulster confirm the departure of head coach Mark Anscombe just two months before the start of the new season

By Gareth Llewellyn
DEPARTED: Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe Photo: Ulster Rugby TV

Head coach Mark Anscombe has left Ulster “with immediate effect” two months before the start of the new Pro12 season.

The New Zealander’s departure comes weeks after director of rugby David Humphreys announced he was leaving the club to take up the same position at Gloucester Rugby with the province drafting in Ireland defence coach Les Kiss as interim director of rugby.

A former New Zealand U20 head coach, Anscombe joined the Belfast-based club from Auckland in 2012 on a two-year deal.

In his two seasons in charge, Anscombe twice led Ulster to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and to the 2013 Pro12 final, where they lost to provincial rivals Leinster.

A promising start to the 2013/14 season eventually faded with a semi-final appearance last month where they again lost to Leinster, and the coach admitted he was to blame for Ulster’s failure to win a trophy after again coming close.

“I would like to pay tribute to the contribution that Mark Anscombe made over the past two seasons and to thank him for his hard work and dedication,” said Ulster Rugby chief executive, Shane Logan.

“Everyone at Ulster Rugby wishes him well for the future.”

Kiss, a former rugby league winger, will take up his new role at the Kingspan Stadium on 19 July and continue his duties as Ireland assistant coach.

“Les Kiss will have an expanded remit for the province’s director of rugby and will lead the coaching staff, assisted by Jonny Bell and Neil Doak and will manage first team selection,” Logan added.

“His appointment allows us time to recruit for long-term success.”

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