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Ex-Springboks assistant Frans Ludeke a shock contender to land URC job

By Neil Fissler
Head coach Frans Ludeke of Kubota Spears is seen prior to the Top League playoff tournament 2nd round between Kubota Spears and Yamaha Jubilo at Edogawa Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Kubota Spears boss Frans Ludeke has emerged as a shock contender to take over the reins at the financially troubled United Rugby Championship outfit Ulster next season.


South African Ludeke, who celebrates his 56th birthday today [April 24], led Kubota Spears, where he has been coaching since 2016, to their first Japan Rugby League One crown last season.

The former Springboks assistant coach gained nine years of Super Rugby experience with the Bulls and Cats before coaching Fiji’s forwards and running their lineout game at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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He was a leading candidate to take over the Japanese national team when Jamie Joseph departed after the Cherry Blossoms exited from the pool stages of the World Cup last year following defeats to England and Argentina.

Ludeke eventually missed out on the appointment to former England boss Eddie Jones, who was given the job for the second time after he walked out on Australia just 10 months into a five-year contract.

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Kubota Spears have struggled this season after missing Bernard Foley for much of the campaign. They are seventh in the table, 32 points behind runaway leaders Saitama Wild Knights.

Ulster put Richie Murphy in charge at Kingspan Stadium when they sacked Dan McFarland in February as they looked to the Ireland U20s coach to get the best out of their young players.


Murphy has got a one-year contract on the table to stay in Belfast next season, but it has not been signed yet as he looks for a longer-term deal, which has led Ulster bosses to speak to Ludeke.

Ludeke, who led the Bulls to Super Rugby titles, would have to accept strict financial restraints, with Ulster making cutbacks to their planting squad after a couple of poor years of financial results.



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