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O'Connell not the only 2009 Grand Slam winner appointed this month by the IRFU to coach at international level

By Online Editors
(Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Paul O’Connell won’t be the only 2009 Grand Slam-winning Ireland forward coming fresh into Six Nations level coaching in 2021 as his former Munster teammate Denis Leamy has been named as assistant coach to the Irish U20s. Lions skipper O’Connell was last week unveiled as the new forwards coach for Andy Farrell senior side.

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His appointment will hopefully assist Ireland to win more of the collisions they seem to lose during Farrell’s inconsistent first calendar year in charge after he succeeded Joe Schmidt as the helm.  

Leamy will now follow O’Connell, his former club and country teammate, into the international arena after agreeing to assist new U20s Ireland coach Kieran Campbell, who has succeeded Noel McNamara.

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Simon Zebo and Ryan Wilson are joined by referee JP Doyle on the latest RugbyPass Offload show
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Simon Zebo and Ryan Wilson are joined by referee JP Doyle on the latest RugbyPass Offload show

Now 39, Leamy won 57 Ireland caps before his retirement in 2012 at the age of 30 with a  hip injury. He coached a variety of teams – Garryowen and Cashel in the All-Ireland League, Rockwell College, Munster underage and the Tipperary hurlers – before deciding to become an elite player development officer with Leinster in October 2019. 

Leamy will act as defence coach to the Ireland U20s, with Colm Tucker Jnr, the son of the late 1980 Lions forward Colm, serving as forwards coach for a Six Nations championship that has been delayed until later in the year due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions.

“The postponement of the Six Nations is disappointing for the players, coaches and management,” said new age-grade Ireland boss Campbell, who has been working in recent years as the Ulster academy boss. “However the most important thing is people’s health and we fully understand and support the decision. We must all follow public health advice and the guidelines in place to protect our families and communities. 

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“The IRFU will explore the options and formats for the championship to take place at a later date with Six Nations and the other unions, and we have been fortunate to have delivered one camp before Christmas. We were able to build a foundation of work through that camp and through remote video calls with the players in recent weeks. 

“With this body of work completed and our commitment to exposing players to competitive game-time within the current restrictions – including the A fixture between Ulster and Leinster this Friday – players, coaches and management will be striving to ensure the group is prepared to perform for the 2021 championship at a later date.”

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O'Connell not the only 2009 Grand Slam winner appointed this month by the IRFU to coach at international level

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