New to the Qantas Wallabies coaching team after a highly successful stint with Munster in Ireland, Tony McGahan brings a background of success to his new role as Coaching Coordinator. McGahan has returned to Australia after sharing in two European Cup successes (2005-06 & 2007-08) with the Irish club during an experience which included four years as Munster head coach. McGahan won the Celtic League (now Rabo Direct Pro 12) twice, while also leading Munster to an historic 15-6 win over the touring Qantas Wallabies at a wind-swept Thomond Park in 2010. Although the men from Limerick were cut short by compatriots Ulster in the quarter-finals of this year’s European Cup, McGahan had already achieved something no previous Munster coach had managed, by winning all six pool matches through the competition.
From Warwick in Queensland, McGahan was initially a teacher by profession, having earned a BE in Physical Education from the Queensland University of Technology, prior to entering coaching on a fulltime basis in 2005. A product of the famous Nudgee College nursery in Brisbane, whose first XV he played for and later coached, McGahan appeared at inside centre for the Queensland Schoolboys alongside the future Queensland and Wallaby prop Glenn Panoho in 1989. He also represented Queensland as a halfback in rugby league in both the Under-16 and Under-19 grades, as well as appearing for the Australian Universities league side, before joining the Brisbane Broncos, where he earned a fulltime contract for the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
McGahan’s coaching career has exclusively been in rugby union. He started off at schoolboy level in Queensland with the Nudgee College first XV, where recent Qantas Wallabies Rocky Elsom and Richard Brown were among the players under his charge. McGahan then moved to the Anglican Church Grammar (Churchie – the Alta mater of the current Qantas Wallabies stars Quade Cooper and David Pocock), where Pocock was among the students in his class room, while the former Brisbane rugby league star-turned high profile ARL recruit, Karmichael Hunt of the Gold Coast Suns, was among those he tutored in the school’s first XV. After being appointed as the coaching coordinator of an Australian Under-19 side which included the current Qantas Wallabies skipper James Horwill along with other team regulars: winger Digby Ioane and hooker Tatafu Polota Nau, McGahan also coached the Brisbane Easts first grade side, and was assistant coach of Queensland A, before being recruited to coach the IBM club in Japan.
He then arrived at Munster in 2005, where he started as the club’s defence coach, before that role was broadened the following season to include general back play and skills, with his input in those areas playing its part as Munster won its first ever European Cup title during the 2005-06 season. Further success in the 2007-08 European Cup, saw Munster Head Coach Declan Kidney elevated to the Irish national job, and McGahan appointed to succeed him as Munster’s Director of Rugby. Munster made the European Cup semi-finals in his first season in the role, while annexing the Celtic League title, heading off bitter Irish rivals Leinster, who featured future Qantas Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom on their playing roster. The club has remained amongst Europe’s leaders in the time since, allowing McGahan to provide the Wallabies with a unique insight into a number of the players he will encounter again this season, during his maiden voyage as a senior international coach.
McGahan’s experience as a head coach will assist with his new role, where he will have a significant hand in the overall coordination of the coaching and management team, as well as the organisational liaison between the coaches and players.
21 MAY 2013