Bahrain have begun the post-Louie Tonkin era by naming two of his closest allies as the men to take the west Asia champions forward.
Captain and long-serving player Adam Wallace has been named the club’s head coach, while hooker Lindsey Gibson – another club stalwart – is the new assistant and forwards coach.
Tom Hanratty will continue in his role as the team manager and Alana McConalogue will come on board as strength and conditioning coach.
“Following a rigorous recruitment process which saw 12 candidates with a wide variety of experience in coaching considered, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Adam Wallace as our new first team coach,” the club announced via its social media channels on Tuesday.
“In the last three years Adam has made an enormous impact as first team captain and as assistant coach to Louie Tonkin. Adam will be supported by Lindsey Gibson, who will also take on many of Louie’s other responsibilities in the sports department for the club.
“Tom Hanratty will continue in his invaluable supporting role as team manager and Alana McConalogue will join as strength and conditioning coach.”
The club had been in the process of scouting for a new coach after Tonkin left his role following a momentous three years in which he had transformed the club from Gulf rugby also-rans to titans of the region.
He led Bahrain to the West Asia Premiership and West Asia Cup double this term – their third and fourth trophies in his three-year spell. Prior to a maiden West Asia Cup success of 2017/18, Bahrain had gone eight years without lifting a piece of silverware.
Tonkin’s tenure – he returned home and started a new role with Exeter Chiefs’ academy last week – was bookended by the double, leading Bahrain to a dominant 2018/19 campaign in which they lost just one of 17 games.
And he has endorsed his replacements. “It’s really exciting to see the club invest in these great young people, all with bright futures in coaching and management,” said Tonkin in a statement released by the club.
“Adam is the right man to take rugby forward in this club. He’s been coaching with me for the last three years and will ensure a seamless transition.
“He is already a distinguished leader among the players’ group, he has a huge future in coaching; this will be a great step for his development and the team.”
In regards to the coaching team as a whole, the Welshman added: “For any coach to be successful, a strong support team is essential. Getting the right balance of professionalism and trust is important.
“Tom, Lindsey and Alana already have great relationships with each other and with Adam. Each will bring professionalism to the team in their own unique way.”
The new Gulf rugby season will kick off in September with the Western Clubs Champions League competition taking place between reigning champions Bahrain, as well as UAE Premiership champion Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Sri Lanka’s Kandy.
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