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Ex-Ireland skipper who marched into the Shelford All Blacks haka has retired from coaching

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(Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ex-London Irish boss Willie Anderson, the captain of the 1989 Ireland side who marched into the All Blacks’ haka in Dublin, has announced his retirement from coaching. The second row, who won 27 Test caps between 1984 and 1990, turned 65 in April and has decided to step away from his latest role at Ulster.  


Anderson created headlines around the rugby world when he led a v-shaped Ireland advance over the halfway line at Lansdowne Road which resulted in them going nose to nose with Buck Shelford’s New Zealand while they did the haka 31 years ago. 

After retiring as a player, Anderson commenced a lengthy coaching career that included taking over from Clive Woodward at London Irish, and working under Matt Williams at Leinster and Scotland. 

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RugbyPass reviews the first Test of the 1997 Lions vs South Africa series in the company of Lawrence Dallaglio
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RugbyPass reviews the first Test of the 1997 Lions vs South Africa series in the company of Lawrence Dallaglio

He joined Ulster, his native province in 2016, as an Ulster academy and A team forwards coach, assisting the likes Adam McBurney, Tom O’Toole, Ross Kane, Nick Timoney and Matty Rea make the transition from the fringes to becoming part of Dan McFarland’s senior squad. 

As a native Ulster man, I have always been intensely passionate about my province’s rugby. It has been an honour to be able to give something back to rugby in Ulster during my final years of coaching,” said Anderson, who signs off at the end of June. 

Ulster CEO Jonny Petrie added: “It’s without a doubt that Willie’s legacy and influence will be felt for many years to come at Ulster. He has made an immeasurable contribution to rugby over the years as both a player and as a coach – and I can say this as someone who benefited first-hand from his exceptional coaching skills.


“It’s certain that Willie will remain in close contact with us as a club, and we look forward to seeing the seeds of talent which he has planted come to fruition in the years ahead.”


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