National Division One club Leeds Carnegie have appointed Andy Key, as their new Director of Rugby and Neil Back MBE, as Head Coach, both on three year contracts from Leicester Tigers. Key and Back will succeed former Director of Rugby Stuart Lancaster, who has joined the RFU as their new Head of Elite Player Development.
Confirming the appointment Leeds Carnegie Chairman Prof Simon Lee commented, (quote)Since the sports minister’s announcement on Thursday that the UK Centre for Coaching Excellence has been awarded to our university, with the task of establishing the number one coaching system in the world by the 2016 Olympics, this is the first opportunity we have had to support that declaration of intent. By appointing Andy and Neil together, Leeds Carnegie is demonstrating the commitment of Leeds Rugby and our university to coaching with a difference. Andy and Neil will establish a coaching system that is all-encompassing and a style that is distinctive.(end quote)
Leeds Carnegie will begin their National Division One campaign on Sunday 31st August when Nottingham are the visitors to Headingley Carnegie followed by a trip to Exeter Chiefs the following week. Speaking about his appointment as Director of Rugby Andy Key said, (quote) Neil and I are massively excited by the challenge ahead at Leeds Carnegie. We recognise the situation that the club finds itself and we want to put Leeds Carnegie back in the Guinness Premiership next year. We both come from a background of success but we are not naÃ¯ve to the challenges that face us in National Division One. However, as outsiders we can see that Leeds are an established club, who know what they want and, although they fell short last season, they have a squad and backroom staff who are hugely enthusiastic and committed. The backing the club receives from Leeds Metropolitan University provides a fantastic opportunity for any coach and that certainly encouraged us to take this opportunity. We are looking forward to the start of the season and we can see from last season that the club has real strength in its staff and playing squad that hopefully we can develop and bring our style to the club in the process.(end quote) Neil Back added, (quote) After meeting Gary Hetherington and seeing the set up both at the club’s training ground and at Leeds Met, I knew that Leeds Carnegie presented me with the ideal opportunity to further my coaching career. I have had some fantastic times at Leicester and it was a big decision to take myself out of the application process for the Director of Rugby position at the Tigers and end my long association with the club. However, I am excited about coming to Leeds Carnegie and joining the fight to regain our place in the Guinness Premiership. Having spoken with Stuart Lancaster, I am aware of the massive challenge that faces us next season; every team will want to beat Leeds and plenty will believe that this is their year to try to gain promotion. However, Andy and I are excited about coming to Leeds, starting on Monday, and getting down to work with the coaching staff and players to begin our preparations for the challenges ahead. (end quote)