Retiring Connacht legend John Muldoon will link up with former coach Pat Lam as he embarks on a coaching career.
Muldoon will join Lam at Bristol, who have already won promotion to the English Premiership for next season, as defence coach next season.
The duo led Connacht to their first major trophy in their 131-year history as they lifted the Pro12 title, with Muldoon named man-of-the-match in the final against Leinster.
“John’s arrival as defence coach reinforces the club vision and culture that we are striving to instil in our players and staff,” said Lam.
“We’re so aligned in our philosophies and it’s a relationship built on mutual trust and understanding of the way the coaching team want Bristol to play.
“John has played more games than anyone else in the PRO14 and he has an intelligent rugby brain.
“When we coached together in the Galway community and worked closely together on gameplan and leadership strategy whilst at Connacht, I could see he had the makings of an excellent coach.
“When I was still playing, my mentor – Ian McGeechan – gave me my first coaching opportunity in the professional game and I want John to have the same opportunity to begin his coaching career.
“He has the character traits and qualities that match everything we are looking for.”
Muldoon has made 325 appearances in his 17 years with Connacht, seven years of which were spent as captain.
“I’m delighted to be linking up with Pat and the team at Bristol Rugby at a hugely exciting time for the club,” said Muldoon.
“I’m inspired by the vision that the club has and the philosophy around community is something that is very important to me.
“I’m honoured to have represented Connacht as a player throughout my career and now I’m relishing the chance to begin my coaching career and help contribute to Bristol’s success in the Premiership.”