HADDINGTON RFC have named Scottish Rugby’s schools and youth partnership officer as the club’s new head coach.

Kieran Cooney’s appointment on Monday came after the club’s previous coaches, Rhodri Thomas and Quinton Caulfield, left the club last week.

Cooney joins after a one-year stint as director of rugby at Kelso – his previous coaching experience is formed by a season as forwards coach at Selkirk - a role he carried out while he was the club's development officer. 

During his playing career, the front rower represented Melrose between 2006 and 2012 before moving to Kelso, where he played until 2014.

And the 33-year-old, who lives in Kelso, is looking forward to getting started at Neilson Park.

He told Courier Sport: “I’m delighted to be taking on the role and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I have been speaking to Keith Wallace and Bob Snodgrass [vice-presidents] and they’ve really sold me on the club’s development – there’s a really good School of Rugby set-up at Knox Academy and there’s no reason why we can’t be benefitting from that in years to come.”

Cooney plans to meet outgoing coach Thomas, who left the club last Wednesday, and hopes pre-season will start at the end of next month.

He added: “Nothing has been finalised at the moment and we’re still working on trying to bring in a coaching team as well.

“Bob is trying to organise a meeting with the players where we can communicate what we’re doing to them.”

Cooney will combine his coaching role with playing, in the front row or “wherever required”.

Thomas, meanwhile, ended his three-year tenure as head coach having narrowly helped the Reds avoid relegation to the regional leagues.

The 41-year-old said that he had “thoroughly enjoyed” his time in charge at the club but had stepped aside as he felt “now is the right time for a change”.

He told Courier Sport: “I’ve got an emotional interest in the club – I played for 12 seasons and was captain, it’s my club – but I just felt it was the right time for a change.”

Thomas, a teacher at Windygoul Primary School in Tranent, insisted the downturn in results was not behind his departure.

He added: “It’s not the main reason – obviously it was frustrating because we’re a better side than the results showed but I wouldn’t say that is the reason [for my decision to leave].

“Three years is a good time.”

Assistant coach Caulfield added: “Last season was frustrating after a promising pre-season but we were pleased that we managed to stay in the national leagues – that is where the club deserves to be.

“The squad, with some additions in key areas, has the ability to push up the league next season.”

While Caulfield takes time away from the game, Thomas will continue his coaching career as assistant coach at National League Division 2 outfit Peebles.

“I’m looking forward to that,” he said, adding: “It will be something different and it’s not a head coach role so that will be good.”

Thomas also wished Haddington well for the future.

The Welshman added: “I look forward to seeing future success for the club.”