Ulster boss David Humphreys has been appointed as the new director of rugby at English Premiership strugglers Gloucester, the west country club announced Saturday.
The former Ulster and Ireland fly-half succeeds Nigel Davies after the Welshman was sacked following a disappointing season which saw Gloucester, one of England’s leading clubs during rugby union’s amateur era, finished ninth in the 12-team Premiership.
That meant the Cherry and Whites failed to qualify for next season’s inaugural Rugby Champions Cup, the successor tournament to the European Cup.
Humphreys, 42, captained Ulster to the 1999 European Cup and then guided the Irish province to the 2012 final.
Although Gloucester were without a director of rugby after sacking former Wales centre Davies that didn’t stop them signing Wales utility back James Hook from relegated French Top 14 side Perpignan on Tuesday.
Belfast-born Humphreys won 72 caps for Ireland from 1996 to 2005 before finally giving way to longtime Test rival Ronan O’Gara.
Humphreys, a qualified lawyer, started his career with Ulster and enjoyed a spell in the Premiership with London Irish before returning to his native province ahead of the 1998/99 season.
After retiring as a player, he moved into Ulster’s coaching set-up.
“This appointment is so key for the long-term success of the club, and I’m absolutely thrilled that David is joining Gloucester Rugby,” said Gloucester chief executive Stephen Vaughan in a statement issued Saturday.
“We have received applications from all over the world.
“However, once David entered the frame…we knew we had our man.
“His background as an international player in the professional era, and subsequent experiences as director of rugby mean that he has the ideal skill set for the role.”
Gloucester’s decision makes Humphreys the fourth former Ireland international who is a director of rugby at a Premiership club, along with Mark McCall (Saracens), Conor O’Shea (Harlequins) and Brian Smith (London Irish).