Dan McFarland has stepped down as Ulster head coach after nearly six years in charge following three defeats in a row in all competitions.

McFarland presided over losses to Toulouse and Harlequins as Ulster were knocked out of the Investec Champions Cup in the group stage.

His side were also beaten by Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship on Sunday and sit eighth in that competition after 10 games.

McFarland, 51, was appointed by Ulster in 2018, replacing Jono Gibbes, and led the club to the Pro14 final in 2020 and to the Champions Cup quarter-finals on two occasions as well as the Challenge Cup semi-finals in 2021.

The Englishman penned a contract extension at Ulster two years ago tying him to the club until 2025 but has now left Ravenhill Stadium, with Ireland U20s coach Richie Murphy to take interim charge until the end of the season.

Murphy will join Ulster at the end of the U20s Six Nations with assistant coach Dan Soper to oversee proceedings ahead of the United Rugby Championship clash with Dragons on March 2.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said: “We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.

“With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

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