Cunningham, who was on the bench when Ulster defeated Colomiers 21-6 in the 1999 European Cup final, played 150 times for the province before retiring four years ago. The new position within the Ulster Rugby set-up was created following a review of the management structures. Cunningham will be responsible for recruiting and retaining players, identifying talent and managing contract negotiations. He will also oversee the professional services around the senior squad and the management of team operations on match nights.
On retirement, Cunningham linked up with Ryan Constable’s Cornerflag management company before it became part of the Esportif International group, run by former Manchester United and Chelsea CEO Peter Kenyon. Locally-based Corner Flag Management started up as the agency which represented the vast majority of Ulster’s home-grown players and Cunningham will be well honed in the contract negotiating skills, albeit on the other side of the table. Cunningham begins his new role on Monday week. “Having been involved in a variety of ways with Ulster since my first game back in 1997, I have always been passionate about the province succeeding in the professional era. With it being a large part of my life, I know the place intimately and have clear goals over the next three years. I leave Esportif International and the agency world, which, for over four years, has given me an invaluable insight and the experience to take on the challenges that lie ahead.”