London Welsh axe coach Burnell

Date published: March 16 2015

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London Welsh have announced the appointment of defence coach Rowland Phillips as head coach, taking over from Justin Burnell.

Welsh, in their first season since winning promotion, have not won a single game in any competition this season and will almost certainly return to the Championship.

Burnell has left the club with immediate effect in the wake of their 74-19 thrashing at the hands of Exeter Chiefs.

Former Wales defence coach and dual-code international Rowland was part of Gareth Jenkins' coaching team for the 2007 World Cup.

"London Welsh would like to thank Justin for his contribution to the club which includes winning promotion from the Championship to the Premiership last season," read a London Welsh statement.

Rowland Phillips said: “I am very proud to be leading the coaching of this great club. It’s been a very tough season in the Premiership trying to play with a squad built on an uneven financial playing field. But the boys are determined to rescue something from this season.”

Rowland is a player and coach of huge experience. He won ten caps for Wales as a back-row forward in rugby union.

He also won caps for the Wales and Great Britain rugby league teams.

Rowland first arrived at London Welsh as a player in 1997 and was swiftly made captain by the then coach Clive Griffiths.

As a Number eight Rowland missed just one game in his two seasons at the Exiles and helped the club win promotion. He scored 18 tries in 66 appearances.

In 2003 he took over as coach of Neath RFC from Lyn Jones. He led Neath RFC to four Premiership titles in successive years and three cup final wins.

He has also worked as Defence Coach at Ospreys, and as Head Coach at Ebbw Vale and at Italian clubs Viadana and Aironi Rugby in the Pro 12.

He joined the coaching team at London Welsh in 2014.

Club Chairman Bleddyn Phillips said: "As Chairman, I would like to add my sincere thanks and very best wishes to Justin and his family for the future. The harsh reality is that the club has had a mountain to climb in terms of now well documented challenges on the financial and structural regime presently in place in Premiership rugby which any coach or club would, to put it mildly, find daunting.

"And we must not forget the tremendous success we achieved last season in winning again the Championship, against all odds, under his coaching leadership."

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