Latest: Ulster appoint 'number one candidate' Dan McFarland as head coach

Update 3.06pm: Ulster have confirmed the appointment of Dan McFarland as their new head coach.

The Englishman has signed a three-year contract with the province to succeed Jono Gibbes.

McFarland has recently served as an assistant coach with Scotland, and they say he will remain with them until January.

"I am really excited that I will be taking on the Ulster Head Coach role. I know firsthand from my years visiting with Connacht and Glasgow the passion and fervour that makes playing in front of Ulster fans so special," said McFarland.

"It's a club with a great history and I welcome the challenge of being a part of their future."

McFarland has in-depth knowledge of the Irish game having spent 15 years with Connacht as a player and then coach.

"Dan was our number one candidate so we're obviously very happy to have secured his services for the next three years. Dan's CV is hugely impressive and he commands great respect within the game," said Bryn Cunningham, Ulster Rugby's Operations Director.

"He enjoyed successful spells with Connacht and Glasgow, and the fact that Gregor brought him into the Scotland set-up speaks volumes for how highly he rates him.

"Our priority in this process was to identify and recruit the best possible candidate first and foremost. With the confirmation of Dan's appointment, we will be announcing at least one further addition to the coaching team in the near future to ensure that we have a strong unit in place in advance of pre-season."

Update 2.17pm: Scotland coach hands in notice ahead of expected Ulster move

Scotland assistant coach Dan McFarland is to relinquish his post before next year's NatWest 6 Nations.

The Scottish Rugby Union announced that McFarland would be leaving in mid-January to take up a job as a head coach.

The club wasn't named but it's strongly expected to be Ulster.

McFarland will remain in his current post for a nine-month notice period as the recruitment process for his replacement gets underway.

Worcester head coach Carl Hogg will join the Scotland coaching set-up on an interim basis for the summer tour of the Americas.

Original story 12.29pm: Scotland coach strongly linked to Ulster role as province confirm deal is done

There's strong speculation that Scotland assistant coach Dan McFarland will succeed Jono Gibbes as Ulster head coach at the end of the season.

The province say they've agreed a deal to appoint their next coach, and that it's already been signed off on by the IRFU.

McFarland spent over a decade as a player and assistant coach at Connacht and has also coached the Ireland Under-20 and Wolfhound teams.

He followed Gregor Townsend into the Scotland set-up having worked with him at the Glasgow Warriors for two years.

Ex-Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan says McFarland would arrive in Belfast with a strong reputation

"He's not your big name. He doesn't have that big stature in the game worldwide, but, from what I hear, and I've heard this from Scottish guys, he's a really good coach, a good motivator and highly thought of," said Quinlan.

"Someone like that might work straight away."

Former New Zealand women's coach Glenn Moore and ex-Northampton boss Jim Mallinder have also been linked with the position at Kingspan Stadium.

- Digital desk and PA

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