Bryn Cunningham appointed to new Ulster manager's post

Bryn Cunningham in action against the Dragons in 2006
Bryn Cunningham made over 150 appearances for Ulster between 1997 and 2010

Former Ulster full-back Bryn Cunningham has been appointed as the Irish province's new team manager.

The team manager role is a new position and has been created following a review of the structures at Ulster.

Cunningham's duties will include recruiting and retaining players, identifying talent and conducting contract negotiations.

The manager, who played over 150 Ulster games, will also oversee the management of team operations on match nights.

Ulster chief executive Shane Logan said said that Cunningham's playing background and subsequent expertise in the area of sports management gave him a "unique skill set".

"Bryn was the stand-out candidate from applicants from across the UK and Ireland," said the Ulster chief.

"He possesses an extensive knowledge of the domestic and international player market and a first-hand understanding of what is required to develop a positive team environment."

Bryn Cunningham factfile
Born 30 March 1978
Pupil at Bangor Grammar School and studied at Trinity College, Dublin
Ulster debut against Wasps 1997
Part of Ulster's European Cup squad in 1999
Helped Ulster win Celtic League 2006
Knee injury forced retirement in 2010 after more than 150 Ulster games
Worked as BBC Sport NI rugby pundit/co-commentator in recent years

Cunningham, 36, has worked with a sports management agency since his retirement from rugby in October 2010 and many of his clients were rugby stars.

"Having been involved in a variety of ways with Ulster Rugby since my first appearance back in 1997, I have always been extremely passionate about the province succeeding in the professional era," said the new Ulster manager

"With it being a large part of my life, I know the place intimately and have clear goals over the next three years in helping to take the province to the top of the European table.

"I leave Esportif International and the agency world, which, for over four years, has given me an invaluable insight and the necessary experience to take on the challenges that lie ahead."

Cunningham will start his Ulster role on 10 November.

Ulster's hierarchy will hope that Cunningham's appointment further stabilises the province following a summer of upheaval at Kingspan Stadium.

David Humphreys shocked his Ulster bosses in early June by leaving his director of rugby role to take up a similar position at Gloucester.

Coach Mark Anscombe was sacked some three weeks later which led to Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss being drafted in as interim director of rugby at Ulster for a period.

Earlier this month, Anscombe's assistant Neil Doak was appointed Ulster coach while it was also announced that Kiss, who is now back with Ireland, will become the province's full-time director of rugby after next year's World Cup.