Leeds Rhinos appoint Agar as new Head Coach

Leeds Rhinos have confirmed the appointment of Richard Agar as the club’s permanent Head Coach for the 2020 season on a rolling twelve month contract.

Agar took charge of the side this season on an interim basis and has guided the team away from danger of relegation He becomes only the ninth permanent Head Coach of the Rhinos in 23 years of summer rugby. He will be the third most experienced coach in Super League in 2020 having started his coaching career at York back in 2004. He has since taken charge of nearly 250 games for York, Hull FC, Wakefield, Leeds and France.

Commenting on the appointment Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said, “We are delighted to be able to confirm Richard as our new Head Coach. The manner in which he has conducted himself this season, during very challenging circumstances, has shown us that he is the right man for the job. We are fortunate to be able to call upon one of the most experienced coaches in the game and importantly someone who knows our players and understands the potential for this group of young men. 

“I think it’s important to say that through working closely with him, and observing his work and speaking to all players and staff it is abundantly clear what an outstanding coach Richard is. He is a hands on coach who gains a great deal of satisfaction from seeing his players improve and reach their potential. Importantly, he is a British coach who knows our competition. I have enjoyed working with him this season, despite of the tough position we have found ourselves in and I looked forward to seeing him put his stamp on this squad during pre-season and next year,” added Sinfield.

Agar, 47, says he is privileged to accept the Leeds Rhinos Head Coach role and admits the past few months have been the perfect preparation for him to take on the job full time. He commented, “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this group of players and helping them turn the corner this season. This is an outstanding club, both on and off the field, and it is our responsibility over the coming years to once again challenge for honours over a sustained period.

“It was important for me when I took charge during the season that I was able to effect change on the squad. This group have struggled over the past few years and there was no point in me becoming Head Coach unless I could have a positive impact.  . However, having worked with the group and seen the potential particular of our young players in the first team and academy squads, I believe we are set for some exciting times in the future and I will be honoured to play my part in this. added Agar.  

Agar has spent his lifetime in the game of Rugby League, his father Allan having coached Featherstone, Bramley and Rochdale, winning the Challenge Cup with Rovers at Wembley in 1983. Richard began his professional playing career at Featherstone Rovers in 1991, signing as a 19 year-old stand off from Featherstone amateurs Travellers Saints.

He moved on to Dewsbury, and had a brief spell at Rochdale Hornets, before returning to the Rams for his most successful spell as a player. Under Neil Kelly, a Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final appearance was made against Hunslet at Headingley in 1999. The following year he kicked the winning drop goal as Dewsbury beat Leigh in the Final.

He followed Kelly to Widnes Vikings the following season and helped his new side to win the 2001 Grand Final as the Vikings booked a place in Super League. Agar stayed in the Championship though and spent one season with each of Rochdale and Featherstone Rovers before hanging up his boots at the end of 2003. He began his coaching career 15 years ago with a season at York before a seven year spell at Hull FC, working as an assistant to John Kear and Peter Sharp.

In 2008, he was appointed Head Coach for the first time, having had a brief spell as interim Head Coach in 2006. The highlight of his time at the KCOM Stadium was leading Hull FC back to Wembley in 2008. After the 2011 season Agar returned to West Yorkshire to join Wakefield Trinity. He spent three seasons at Belle Vue, leading the team to the play offs in his first season before the club was hit by financial issues off the pitch that meant a major rebuilding of the squad. 

In 2015, he joined Tony Smith’s backroom team at Warrington Wolves, spending three seasons at the Halliwell Jones Stadium before a year in Australia working with NRL side St George Illawarra Dragons.

He returned to England to join the Rhinos in December 2018 in a newly created position to head up the player development department at the club with a focus on the club’s academy production line. However, following the departure of Head Coach Dave Furner in May 2019, he took charge of the team after they had secured just four wins in 14 games.