Rugby World Cup winner and three-time British & Irish Lions tourist Neil Back MBE has been appointed Edinburgh Rugby forwards coach on a two-year deal.
The former England internationalist arrives with nearly a decade of coaching experience, forged in each of his title-winning terms at Leicester Tigers, Leeds Carnegie and Rugby Lions.
In a 66-cap career that began 12 years ago at the home of his new club, Murrayfield Stadium, Back won a full house of rugby accolades, lifting four English Premiership and two Heineken Cup titles, on top of winning a British & Irish Lions Test series in South Africa, a RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam and a Rugby World Cup.
After England’s double cup year of 2003, Back spent two seasons as both Leicester captain and player-coach.
He retired from playing after his third British & Irish Lions tour in 2005 and was elevated to Tigers’ assistant coach for a further three seasons, completing a five year period in which the club made four Premiership finals – winning the title and reaching the Heineken Cup final in 2007.
To complement his coaching development, Back also took charge of the club’s academy, nurturing the formative years of current England internationalists Ben Youngs and Dan Cole.
After five seasons as an assistant coach Back secured the head coach role at Championship side Leeds Carnegie and, in his first season, won the league and promotion to the top flight.
Battling on a Championship budget, he consolidated the club’s position in the Premiership for a second season, however the club fell just short of a third when they were relegated by a single bonus point on the last day of the 2010/11 season.
He then accepted a new challenge to spearhead the resurgence of National League side, Rugby, where the club enjoyed a flawless championship, winning all 30 matches, the league, the domestic cup and promotion, before he accepted his latest role at Edinburgh Rugby.
Welcoming his arrival, head coach Michael Bradley, said: “I’m delighted to have secured Neil Back as our new forwards coach.
“There is a consistent thread of success throughout his playing and coaching career, his attention to detail is exceptional and he has already outlined clearly the standards he expects of himself and our squad.
“Technically he is very strong and his coaching credentials stand out as someone who gets the best out of players – a characteristic which, added to him being a consistent winner, makes him a very positive appointment for Edinburgh Rugby.
“If our forwards can embrace that sort of focus and commitment, something I think they crave, then Edinburgh Rugby will go from strength to strength.”
In an inspirational playing and coaching career, Back has celebrated domestic, European and international success, earning global recognition as a player who defied convention.
Despite being just 5’10” and 93kg, Back bucked the trend of modern professional back-row players, using his expertise at the breakdown and ferocious work-rate to characterise his playing career.
He said: “This role presents a fantastic challenge and I’m very grateful to get the opportunity at such a high-profile club.
“It’s a very exciting time for Edinburgh Rugby with a great squad, exciting new players arriving and some really positive performances to build on from last season.
“There are lots of elements to a rugby player, and to being in a position to technically and physically excel, so my coaching philosophy is to be meticulous in everything we do. It’s very much about the absolute fine detail needed to maximize your potential.
“All of this contributes to my love for the coaching and training environment. I’m a passionate coach. I’m 100% committed, 100% of the time, and I’m really looking forward to this challenge.“
Increased investment from Scottish Rugby in the club’s squad means Edinburgh Rugby have retained the top performers that led the club to last season’s Heineken Cup semi-final, while signing ten quality new players to support the club’s strike for silverware in 2012/13.
Edinburgh Rugby managing director, Craig Docherty, added: “There’s a huge amount of excitement about what we can achieve this year and I think it speaks volumes of the progress and ambitions of this club that we are able to attract players and coaches of this quality to Edinburgh Rugby.
“Neil [Back]’s a proven winner, on and off the pitch, and I’m sure he’ll bring the same physical, relentless edge to his coaching that made him world famous as a player.”
Looking to matters off the pitch, Docherty added: “Our average crowd increased substantially last season and we’re seeing that commitment translate into strong season ticket sales, as we all gear up for a huge year in the history of the club.
“A lot of new fans are turning on to a fantastic spectator and fan experience, where top Scottish and international athletes run out for Edinburgh Rugby against the top teams in Europe, week in, week out, in a family friendly and social setting.”
The appointment of Neil Back completes the Edinburgh Rugby coaching team, led by head coach Michael Bradley and fellow assistant coach, Billy McGinty.
Neil Back will begin his new role at Murrayfield later this month and will be formally introduced to media shortly after his arrival.
Edinburgh Rugby coaching team
• Head coach – Michael Bradley
• Forwards coach – Neil Back
• Defence coach – Billy McGinty
Neil Back, Edinburgh Rugby forward coach (43)
2003-2005 – Leicester Tigers player/defence coach
• 2005 – Premiership finalists
2005-2008 – Leicester Tigers assistant coach
• 2006 – Premiership finalists
• 2007 – EDF Energy Cup winners
• 2007 – Heineken Cup finalists
• 2007 – Premiership champions
• 2008 – EDF Energy Cup finalists
• 2008 – Premiership champions
2008 – Appointed head coach of Leeds Carnegie
• 2009 – Championship title winners
• 2010 – Retained place in the Premiership
2011 – Appointed head coach of Rugby
• 2012 – National League Division 3 league and Cup winners
66 England caps (1994-2003, debut v Scotland at Murrayfield)
16 British & Irish Lions appearances (5 Tests)
Only England forward to score four tries in one match
Only England forward to score a drop-goal
1994 – England debut v Scotland (at Murrayfield)
1997 – Heineken Cup finalist
1997 – Winning British & Lions Test tourist of South Africa
1999 – Leicester Tiger's top try scorer (16)
1999-2002 – Winner of four consecutive English Premiership titles
2001 – British & Irish Lions Test tourist of Australia
2001 – Heineken Cup winner (scored in the final)
2002 – Heineken Cup winner
2003 – RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam winner
2003 – Rugby World Cup winner (started six of seven games, scored two tries)
2003/04 – Leicester Tigers captain and player/defence coach
2005 – British & Irish Lions Test tourist of New Zealand