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O'Connell takes Top 14 role

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Paul O'Connell leaves Ireland Under 20's for Top 14 role

Former Ireland, British & Irish Lions and Munster captain Paul O’Connell is leaving the Ireland Under 20’s and taking up a forward coaching role with French Top 14 club Stade Francais.

The 38-year-old will work under for Springboks head coach Heyneke Meyer. Mike Prendergast, a former Munster teammate of O’Connell’s, recently joined the club as an attack and backs coach.

O’Connell’s first foray into coaching came with the Irish Under 20’s as an assistant coach to Noel McNamara, joining the set-up in December last year.

He earned 108 caps for Ireland, winning a Grand Slam in 2009 along with Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015. He played 178 times for Munster, picking Celtic League and Heineken Cup trophies.

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O’Connell retired from the game in February 2016, when he failed to recover from a hamstring injury which he sustained during the 2015 World Cup. He had been due play for Toulon, but never managed a game.

Stade Francais initially put up a cryptic video on Twitter to tease out the announcement.

“I am really happy to join Paris and to be able to work in this big club alongside Heyneke Meyer”, O’Connell said after his announcement was confirmed.

O’Connell has signed a two-year deal with an option of a third.

Heyneke Meyer, Sports Director and Head Coach at Stade said: “I am really pleased to welcome Paul to the Stade Francais Paris family. Paul will bring his value and experience to our coaching team through his proven leadership abilities and his tactical and technical skills. This is a major asset for the club and it shows the ambitions and goals of the Stade Français Paris .

O’Connell’s is the second high profile former Irish international to move to Paris to take up a coaching role, Ronan O’Gara spent four years with Stade’s city rivals Racing Metro, joining the club in 2013 before leaving to take up a role with the Crusaders in Super XV.

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Paul O'Connell leaves Ireland Under 20's for Top 14 role