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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 December 2007, 17:37 GMT
Williams accepts Ulster position
Matt Williams
Matt Williams has accepted the job as Ulster coach
Matt Williams has been confirmed as the new Ulster head coach after agreeing a two-and-a-half year contract.

Ulster players were informed of the news, and the reasons for the delay in confirming the appointment, before a squad training session on Sunday.

It is understood that Williams had to finalise arrangements for his family.

Williams will not take over the reins officially until late January but is due to meet senior players next week to discuss their contractual situations.

Seventeen players are out of contract at the end of this season and the former Leinster and Scotland coach is understood to be keen to discuss their futures.

Williams will also hold a media conference and watch Friday night's Magners League game against Munster before returning to Australia to tie up some of his affairs.

606: DEBATE

Williams will not be in charge for the Munster clash on 4 January and will also miss the closing Heineken Cup matches with Bourgoin and Gloucester before assuming control in late January.

Caretaker coach Steve Williams will continue to be at the helm in the interim and it is thought that the present backroom staff will remain in place until the end of the season.

Williams was offered the job after holding discussions with officials from the Ulster Branch and the IRFU last weekend.

Over the past two years, Williams has been in charge of coaching duties at Sydney club West Harbour RFC.

The Australian has had a chequered career in coaching. He had some success with NSW Waratahs before moving north of the equator to Dublin.

With former Ireland international Willie Anderson as his deputy, Williams had quite a successful stint with Leinster.

His at times uncompromising approach helped to shock an under-achieving team into becoming genuine Heineken Cup candidates.

During his time in Dublin he guided Leinster to Celtic League honours and was assigned Ireland A coach in 2002.

But after Leinster fluffed their lines in the 2004 semi-final against Perpignan, Williams' tenure came under threat.

However, his success at Leinster led him, and a short time later Anderson, to be head-hunted and leapfrogged into the international sphere when Scotland's big hitters Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer were impressed with his forthright ideas.

As the first foreign coach at Murrayfield, Williams was at times controversial in his approach, and ditching well-established coaches and players in the SRU system did not go down too well in some quarters.

In the end, following a two-year stint in which Scotland only won three out of 17 games, Williams was sacked along with his backroom staff in April 2005.

Williams is an articulate speaker and since his return to Australia, he has been involved in more motivational lectures than coaching drills.



SEE ALSO
Ulster role 'interests' Jenkins
26 Nov 07 |  Ulster


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