Bell to return to Ulster’s coaching ticket as Newby extends contract

European Cup winner, and former Ulster Assistant Coach, Jonny Bell, will be making a welcome return to the province on a 3-year deal to take over from outgoing Jared Payne as Ulster’s Defence Coach. Skills Coach, Craig Newby, has also signed a contract extension to remain at Ulster until 2024.

Ulster and Ireland centre, Bell, previously coached at Ulster as Elite Player Development Officer before becoming Assistant Coach from 2011-2015. He then made the move to Gloucester, and spent five years as their Defence Coach before taking over as Attack Coach at Glasgow Warriors for the 2020-21 season.


Bell will return to Kingspan Stadium this summer from Premiership side, Worcester Warriors, where he is currently Defence Coach.

Meanwhile, former All Black, Craig Newby, joined Ulster last summer on a one-year deal as Skills Coach from his role as Director of Rugby at St. John’s School in Leatherhead. Newby also held roles as England U20 Women’s Forwards Coach and was involved in the coaching setup for both Wasps U18s and Harlequins U16s. He has signed on with the province for a further two years.

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:

“Jonny’s homecoming to the province is an exciting prospect. Defence has been at the forefront of his game, both as a player and as a coach, and he has a wealth of coaching experience that will be hugely valuable to us.

“I know he will fit in well with our strong group of coaches, and we look forward to welcoming him back into the fold.

“It is also great that Craig has bought into what we are building on as a club, and has agreed to extend his time with us.

“He has integrated seamlessly into our coaching team, and has already done an impressive job of further developing the skills of our Senior and Academy players.“

On his new appointment, Jonny Bell, said:

“I’m really excited to be going back to Ulster Rugby where it began for me all those years ago.

“Ulster are a top-class team, extremely well-coached, and with an exciting crop of young and experienced players.

“They are competing consistently at the business end of domestic and European competitions.

“I am thrilled to be working with Dan McFarland and his coaching team and look forward to adding my knowledge and experience to an already driven and dynamic group.

On his contract extension, Craig Newby, added:

“My time at Ulster has been nothing but fantastic, and when Dan and the club offered me an opportunity to stay on and continue to do what I love, it was a no-brainer to say yes.

“I’ve enjoyed the challenge from Day 1 and I’ve learnt an extraordinary amount about my coaching from the players, the coaches, and the games. I look forward to spending more time adding as much value as I can to keep pushing towards our ultimate goals.

“I’d also love to mention the wonderful city of Belfast, the surrounding countryside, and people of Ulster for making me feel like I’m at home in New Zealand.”


Leanne is the editor in chief of BELFAST.CO.UK.