HomeRugbyRugby IrishMeet Richie Murphy the new Head coach of Ulster Rugby

Meet Richie Murphy the new Head coach of Ulster Rugby

For Richie Murphy, coaching Ulster Rugby is not just a job but a calling. The new head coach of Ulster describes it as a “vocation,” saying he wouldn’t want to make a living any other way.

Murphy’s coaching career spans 25 years and began after a knee injury ended his playing days as a goal-kicking fly-half in his late 20s. He’s now one month into his new role at Ulster, stepping in after Dan McFarland’s departure.

Despite the scrutiny that comes with the position, Murphy’s passion for coaching remains steadfast. He responds quickly when asked if he still enjoys coaching: “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t! I love rugby. The idea of working in an office job doesn’t really appeal to me.” His dedication to the sport is clear, with long hours at work being a norm for him: “I have no problem being on my laptop at 10 o’clock at night and then getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning and going to work.”

Originally from County Wicklow, Murphy played as a fly-half for several clubs in Ireland before transitioning to coaching at the club level due to his knee injury. His coaching career took off when he worked for the IRFU in various roles, including a decade-long stint with the Ireland coaching team. Most recently, he coached the U20s, leading them to consecutive Six Nations Grand Slams and a World Championship final.

Now, Murphy faces a new challenge with Ulster. “It’s definitely a different role,” he acknowledges. His experience with the U20s has provided a solid foundation for his current position, helping him build strong relationships with the players.

Murphy’s initiation into the role has been tough, starting with two challenging games in South Africa followed by trips to France for the EPCR Challenge Cup. “It definitely feels like it was a tough start, even just to be away for those four weeks,” says Murphy.

Returning to home soil, Murphy and the team face Cardiff Rugby at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday night. “We are coming off the back of a difficult enough four weeks on the road,” he admits, noting the challenges for both players and staff.

Ulster currently holds the final play-off spot in the league with five rounds of matches remaining. Murphy is optimistic about the team’s future prospects. “We know what we need to do in relation to the next number of weeks and we are hoping to get a good start on Friday night,” he says.

Despite his current position as interim head coach, Murphy has a long-term vision for his role at Ulster. “I have loved my time with the U20s and would be quite happy to go back to them if that happens,” he notes. “But I’m also very keen on the idea of a longer-term thing in Ulster. It’s a job that I’d really like to do and I suppose that will come down to whether Ulster wants me or not.”


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