Connacht Rugby completed their back room team today with the appointment of Andre Bell as the new Backs & Kicking Coach. The former Wellington Lions Head Coach has signed a two-year deal and will join up with the province in the summer pre-season period.

The New Zealander, who previously headed up provincial side Bay of Plenty, went on to coach the Wellington Lions for four years, first as Assistant Coach to Jamie Joseph and then two years as Head Coach where he led the team to the 2010 ITM Cup play-offs.

Bell’s playing career included 43 appearances for Otago while he completed an education degree in Dunedin. In 1997, the fullback chose to further his teaching and coaching career at Rotorua Boys’ High School where, at the powerhouse of New Zealand secondary school rugby, he influenced the early careers of players like Liam Messam, Mike Delany and Stephen Setephano.

The coach is currently assisting the Fiji squad prepare for their June internationals against Italy, Tonga and Samoa as well as the RWC qualifier against the Cook Islands before he flies into Ireland for the Connacht pre-season.

The new appointment completes the Connacht coaching ticket for next season. Head Coach Pat Lam, in his second year at the helm, is once again joined by Dan McFarland who will continue in his role as Assistant Coach, with specialist responsibility for the Forwards, while Dave Ellis will continue as Skills Coach for the club.

Incoming Backs & Kicking Coach to Connacht Rugby Andre Bell said:

“It’s a very exciting time for myself and my family and we’re all really looking forward to the move to Galway.

“While I haven’t yet worked with Pat– but played and coached against him – I have a lot of admiration for his coaching. I’m excited by the vision for Connacht that has been shared with me and by the personal challenge as a coach.”

Head Coach Pat Lam was equally as pleased with the recent appointment:

“We are delighted to appoint Andre as our Backs & Kicking Coach for the coming season. He has proven himself as a quality and innovative technical coach in his roles within New Zealand rugby and we look forward to welcoming him here to Connacht.

“We had several candidates put their names forward for this position. The standard and calibre of applicants was really impressive which is a very positive sign for Connacht and it’s attraction as a club.

“On the back of the support from the IRFU, we are now in a position to strengthen our coaching team from two personnel at the start of last season to four going into the next. This was a major priority for me and I’m thrilled to now have a full complement of quality, experienced coaches for next season.

“I’d like to thank the IRFU for all their work and also Joe (Schmidt) who sat on the interview panel with us. As the national coach and particularly as a quality backs coach, Joe’s input was crucial in ensuring we got the right person for the job.

“Our back line for next season is remarkably young with 12 of the 16 backs coming in under the age of 25. But the addition of Andre as well as Mils Muliaina as Player-Mentor will really drive the development of the young Irish qualified players. It’s an exciting time for Connacht Rugby and we’re already looking forward to next season.”

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