Buccaneers have appointed powerful forward Kolo Kiripati as head coach as the Athlone club prepares for the resumption of rugby in the forthcoming season.
The powerful forward played for ten seasons with the Pirates whom he skippered to promotion to Division 1A in 2016/17.
Kiripati replaces Peter O’Donnell at the midlanders, with Henry Bryce appointed as backs coach and David Henshaw will assist with the forwards as scrum coach.
I “wanted to” coach Buccs ”and” I’m “greatly looking forward to, even though it is a big challenge.” Explained Kolo who is “champing at the bit to get the season going at the club he now considers home”.
Backrower Kolo hails from Samoa and grew up in New Zealand where he honed his rugby. A formidable on-field presence, he arrived in Ireland in 2006 and played for two seasons for Wanderers before joining Buccs on their return to the top flight.
Kiripati has enjoyed considerable success with Buccaneers including 4 Connacht Senior League and three Senior Cup triumphs.
He was the club’s ‘Senior Player of the Year’ in 2011/12 and topped that by being named ‘Club Person of the Year’ in 2016, an accolade he shared with his wife Mele.
Kiripati’s presence in Buccaneers pack added strength, guile and a hard edge and the talismanic South Sea Islander was a huge favourite with the Athlone side’s supporters.
Kolo coached Longford last season and at North Kildare for the two previous seasons and he has also coached various Buccs underage sides.
Married to Mele, they have four children Ivana, Koronato, Merissa and Niall. The family are heavily involved in the club and both Ivana and Kolo Junior have represented Connacht and Ireland at various underage levels.
Mele was a leading light in the forming of a Womens team at the club but family commitments mean she will be taking a well-earned break from formal activity at the club this season.
Henry Bryce is a fellow Samoan who played for his country at 15’s and 7’s levels and was also capped by the A team. He has considerable playing experience in Ireland.
A big but mobile centre, he has played for Clontarf, Bective Rangers, Old Belvedere and Naas with whom he was named 2013 Division 2B Player of the Year in the All-Ireland League. He has held coaching positions at Naas, Clontarf, Suttonians and several college teams.
David Henshaw has had a lengthy association with Buccaneers A serious front row performer who propped for Connacht, his prowess helped Garryowen to a Division 1 AIL title during the season he spent with the Limerick club.