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Ex-England boss Stuart Lancaster rules out Premiership return as Leinster staff sign contract extensions

By Liam Heagney

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Any possibility of former England head coach Stuart Lancaster returning to the Gallagher Premiership any time soon has been dashed after Leinster announced a fresh two-year extension for their coveted senior coach.

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Every time a top-flight vacancy has cropped up in the last number of years, Lancaster’s name has inevitably been linked with the position and it has been the same in recent months following the departure of Paul Gustard as the Harlequins director of rugby.

Lancaster, though, has always repeatedly stated how happy he has been working at Leinster, whom he initially joined in September 2016, and he will be now be at the Irish province until 2023 following his latest extension.

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Johnny Sexton looks ahead to Ireland’s Six Nations finale versus England

The ex-England coach, who was in charge of his country from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup having previously coached Leeds in the Premiership, wasn’t the only management staff rewarded by the club that will seek to win a fourth Guinness PRO14 title in succession when they host Munster in Dublin on March 27.

Two-year extensions were also agreed with Felipe Contepomi and Robin McBryde, while a one-year extension was agreed with head coach Leo Cullen, who has been in the job since 2015. Leinster CEO Mick Dawson said: “The discussions with Leo, and indeed with all the coaches, have gone very smoothly and I would like to thank Leo and Stuart, Felipe and Robin for their patience and understanding in what is for everyone in society a challenging situation.

“Under Leo’s stewardship, the club has enjoyed unprecedented success reaching seven finals in that time, including Saturday week’s game against Munster, and of course there is still the small matter of a European season to conclude this year and a game with Toulon only weeks away.

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“This success has been achieved in tandem with Stuart, Felipe and Robin and there was no hesitation on our part in offering them all extended terms and we very much look forward to working with them into the future.”

Explaining the twelve-month difference in the length of contracts penned by Cullen and the other staff, Dawson added: “We offered Leo a two-year deal and were very happy to do so, but Leo, for his own personal reasons, has instead chosen a rolling one-year contract which we respect.

“It is very much our hope that Leo will sit down with us again next season and that he will indicate a willingness to commit for a second season, and we will discuss that possibility when the time is right.

“Until that time, we are delighted to have Leo on board and we look forward to working with him, with Stuart, Felipe and Robin and indeed with the rest of the coaching and backroom team to build on the fantastic work already underway.”

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Cullen said: “As Mick has stated, I was offered a two-year extension but requested a one-year rolling extension instead. This is purely down to personal circumstances and I would like to thank the IRFU and Leinster for their understanding in that regard.

“In saying that, I would like to reaffirm my absolute commitment to Leinster. Anyone who knows me will know that my loyalty lies here.”

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PRO 14    

Ex-England boss Stuart Lancaster rules out Premiership return as Leinster staff sign contract extensions

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