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5 Potential Contenders To Become Leinster Head Coach

Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary Updated

Update: In case you haven't heard Matt O'Connor is heading out the door at Leinster having been mutually consented this morning. Obviously enough that means attention now turns to who could replace him.

There are several promising young Irish coaches in the rugby world these days that are gaining a reputation for some of the results that they have been getting using some attractive style of rugby.

Ideally we'd like to see some of these coaches back in Ireland. Here are five contenders that should end up becoming the Leinster coach at some stage in their careers.

1. Bernard Jackman

The Grenoble head coach is performing unbelievably with the Alpine Top 14 side. Jackman joined the French club in 2011 as a defense coach when they were still in the Pro D2. That season they won the French second division league with games to spare. Jackman spent three seasons as their defense coach, bringing in Mike Prendergast as skills coach.

Grenoble have grown enormously as Jackman's influence increased. Grenoble operate with a much smaller budget than the rest of the French clubs, yet still manage to compete and play a very attractive brand of rugby. They are currently 8th in the Top 14, five points from a playoff finish. Grenoble have scored the 4th most points in the division, with the fifth most tries scored. Despite this, with Jackman moving away from defensive duties, they have conceded more points and tries than anyone else.

Bernard Jackman was a very popular player at Leinster, and given his coaching credentials and style of play; he'd be welcome back with open arms at the RDS.

Jackman isn't likely to leave Grenoble any time soon, but there is a sense that he is a future Leinster coach a few years down the line.

2. Conor O'Shea

The RTE pundit has transformed Harlequins after the mire of the bloodgate scandal. Since that moment in 2009, O'Shea has rebuilt the London club into perenial English contenders, making the Premiership playoffs in three of O'Shea's four full seasons at the club, whilst winning the Challenge Cup, the Premiership and an LV Cup.

O'Shea acts as the Director Of Rugby with Harlequins, which means he'd require someone to take over more of the coaching aspect of the job were he to take over at his home province.

His name is often banded about when conversations about the Leinster head coaching job comes up, while he's also been mentioned with regards to the Ireland job too.


O'Shea is contracted with Harlequins until June 2016, and it's very very hard to see him reneging on that contract before it expires.

3. Girvan Dempsey

Swervin' Girvan is the current Leinster academy manager. He's been in that position since 2012, and has seen the emergence of the likes of Jack Conan, Marty Moore, Noel Reid, and Jordi Murphy.

Dempsey has been tasked with identifying potential from the Leinster schools competition like Garry Ringrose, Dan Leavy, and Ross Byrne and prepare them for professional rugby at the Leinster academy.


As part of his duties, Dempsey takes control of the Leinster A team. Dempsey has gotten his young charges to play a free flowing game scoring lots of tries and they won the British & Irish Cup twice in the last two years.

Dempsey is only 39, and is showing that he has an ability to get the best out of the highly talented youngsters in the academy. It's safe to assume that he would be capable of moving up the ladder to eventually end up as Leinster's head coach.

4. Mike Prendergast

This may be a bit left field, but he is one of Ireland's best young coaches. Prendergast joined Jackman in the coaching ticket in Grenoble after a stint as coach of Young Munster.


While it's unlikely that a former Munster scrumhalf would end up as head coach of Leinster; Prendergast's duties as a skills and backs coach have set him apart as a promising young coach. With Jackman, Prendergast has got the Alpine club playing an entertaining brand of rugby.

It's plausible that he would join Jackman as a partnership at Leinster's reins, but with Jackman leaning towards continuing his work with Grenoble; Prendergast could be persuaded to move to a job with bigger responsibilities.

5. Mark McCall

This is probably highly unlikely given the success Mark McCall is having as Director Of Rugby at Saracens, but Irish Rugby should be keeping an eye on Ulster's Heineken Cup winner.


Like Conor O'Shea, Mark McCall doesn't do a lot of the coaching aspect in his role as Director Of Rugby, although he does have previous coaching experience with Saracens before he took up his current role.

As Director Of Rugby, he's brought the English club to three consecutive European Cup semi finals, with an appearance in the final last year before they lost to Toulon's juggernaut.

Under McCall, Saracens have the best winning record in Premiership history. They are on course to reach the Premiership playoffs for a fourth successive year under the Ulsterman, although they have yet to add a trophy to their haul.


McCall has a contract with Saracens until 2017.

See Also: How An Ex-Leinster Star Overcame Blindness To Make Barbarians History
See Also: Video: Bernard Jackman Explained Some Rugby Jargon On Against The Head
See Also: Conor O’Shea Is Being Linked With A Major Head Coaching Job

Photo Credit Sportsfile

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