Phil de Barra has been appointed as the new head coach of the Leinster Rugby Women’s team, replacing Ben Armstrong at the helm.

The new head coach previously worked in an assistant coach role under Armstrong for the back-to-back interprovincial titles of 2018 and 2019.

He is now hoping that, despite the 2020 interprovincial series being cancelled, the team can pick up where they left off.

“I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to coach Leinster Women this year. Having worked with the team for two previous seasons as assistant coach, the move to head coach is a role I feel prepared for,” says de Barra.

“The best part for me is knowing the remarkable quality we have in our team, in particular with regard to our culture and our values. The intense work ethic amongst the players and the professionalism from both players and staff in previous years is a credit to the individuals and to Leinster Rugby.

“I see my job this year as keeping the good times going while trying to progress our rugby to the ‘next level’, if and where possible.”

Alongside de Barra, Tom McKeown (Forwards), Stephen Maher (Backs), Maz O’Reilly (Lineout) and Lorna Quinn (Manager) are all retained while there are four new additions to the management team.

Charl Malherb (Contact Skills), Ben Watson (Kicking), Martin Quinn (Video Analysis) and Aaron O’Connor (Athletic Development) will be joining the team for this season.

Phil de Barra (Head Coach)

Phil played AIL rugby with DLSP and also has playing honours with Leinster U-21, Leinster ‘A’, and Leinster and Ireland Colleges.

He also studied Sports and Exercise (rugby) BA in IT Carlow and is presently studying for an MSc in Performance Coaching.

Phil has been coaching for 18 years, previous roles include YDO with Leinster Rugby, Rugby Officer with DCU and head coach of DLSP. He’s currently Director of Rugby and SCT Coach with St Gerard’s School,  head coach of Gorey RFC and of course now the Leinster women.

Tom McKeown (Forwards Coach)

Tom worked in community rugby for seven years with Leinster Rugby in various roles locally in club MU Barnhall then Dublin and North Midlands. He has 10 years of experience coaching in the schools game.

He has now moved on to MU Barnhall where he is Rugby Development Manager – tasked with overseeing recruitment and coaching of male and female scholarship players.

As a player, he has played rugby league for senior Ireland side. He has also played over 200 first team games for MU Barnhall at No 8 with over 150 of those consecutively, including five seasons as captain.

Stephen Maher (Backs Coach)

Stephen has been involved with Leinster Rugby for the past 16 years, having worked as a Club Community Rugby Officer (CCRO) with Clontarf Rugby Club for 10 years working with mini and youth teams and coaches.

In 2015 as part of Dublin City Council and Leinster Rugby programmes, Stephen became the Community Rugby Officer (CRO) for the North West Area of Dublin City working with schools and youth groups from Cabra, Finglas and Ballymun.

In 2019, Stephen took the role of CRO in the Dublin Central area. Working closely with DCC Sports Officers and Schools in the area, he is trying to grow the game of rugby within the Dublin North East Inner City in what is not a traditional sport for the area. Stephen has also been involved in the Leinster Rugby Player Pathway for the last number of years coaching with the Metro Area Development Squads as well as working with a number of schools in his area

Aside from his role with Leinster, Stephen was involved with Swords RFC for two years as head coach of the men’s Senior squad.

Stephen has been involved with the Leinster Women’s set up for the last two interpro series’ as part of the coaching group, and now steps up formally to the role of Backs Coach.

Ben Watson (Skills Coach)

Having started in Wicklow RFC, Ben then went on to St. Gerard’s School where he played five years of cup rugby, one of which was as Senior Cup captain in 2019.

He achieved several underage representative caps with both Leinster and Ireland, most notably being a part of the Ireland U-18 Sevens squad that finished second at the European Championships in Lithuania.

He started his coaching career a number of years ago when assisting with Wicklow RFC’s youths squads. Upon graduating from St. Gerard’s School, he was offered the opportunity to go back to the school and coach which was gratefully accepted. This last year, Ben assumed the position of JCT assistant and backs coach as well as the kicking and skills coach for the entire school.

He also has experience in coaching the Wicklow RFC Senior Women’s Sevens side over the past two years.

The coaching team have also named an extended squad for the upcoming interprovincial series.

The Senior Women’s Interprovincial Championship will take place on three successive weekends – August 28th, September 4th and September 11th.

Each team will play each other once, with the trophy being decided by league format. Games will be hosted by the provinces with fixtures to be confirmed in due course.

This will be the first Senior Women’s Interprovincial Championship officially sponsored by Vodafone Ireland.

The U18 Women’s Interprovincial Championship will also take place on the weekends of August 28th, September 4th and September 11th with the same competition format.