Tom Coventry to take over as London Irish coach

Chiefs assistant coach Tom Coventry will take the reins at Premiership club London Irish from the start of the 2015-16 season.

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Irish confirmed on Tuesday that current head coach Brian Smith had been released from his contract on compassionate grounds, allowing him to return to Australia for family reasons.

Glenn Delaney will assume Smith's duties on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2014-15 campaign, but Coventry will be the man to lead Irish thereafter.

The switch was confirmed by Coventry's current club and future employers on Wednesday, with the New Zealander expressing excitement at the prospect of assuming his new role.

"I had lengthy discussions with the board of directors at London Irish and with the significant investment that has been put into the club, especially with the new training facility, it made my decision to join a straightforward one," Coventry told Irish's official website.

"The owners have a clear vision of where they want to take the club and it is a challenge I am immensely excited by and I cannot wait to get stuck in when I join.

"I have enjoyed my time with the Chiefs and will continue to do so until it is time to go, but I think to stay fresh as a coach it is important to immerse yourself in new environments, new challenges and experiences which is what I am going to do."

Bob Casey, rugby development director at Irish, added: "The club's rugby committee has undertaken an extensive international search to find a top-calibre coach to take London Irish forward.

"Tom Coventry proved to be an outstanding candidate given his individual character and rugby experience. He comes from the best rugby environment in the world where he has had much success and worked with two of New Zealand's leading coaches in Wayne Smith and Dave Rennie.

"It is a great coup for London Irish to secure a coach of Tom's calibre to lead our rugby programme over the coming seasons."

Coventry will continue to work with the Chiefs until the end of the Super Rugby season in June.

The club's CEO, Andrew Flexman, said: "While we are sad to be losing Tom's coaching services, we would like to acknowledge his contribution to our environment and our success in his time at the Chiefs.

"It is an unfortunate reality that coaches of Tom's calibre are in high demand overseas and we wish he and his family every success with the next chapter in their lives."

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