Mark McCall

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Mark McCall (born 29 November 1967 in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland) is an Irish former rugby union player and former coach of Ulster.[1] He played 13 times for the Ireland national rugby union team, making his debut against New Zealand on 30 May 1992 as a substitute. He started in his second match the following month, also against New Zealand.[2]

He played a Five Nations match against Wales in 1994, and came off the bench to play against England in 1996. He played against Australia later that year. He played four times in 1997; against New Zealand, Canada and twice against Italy. He also played against Scotland and England in the 1998 Five Nations, finishing his career later that year with two matches against South Africa. His entire thirteen match career went without him scoring a single point internationally. He scored more than 100 points for his club career. He then coached Ulster and won the Magners league (now the Pro 12) in 2006.[2]

After his career as a player the former inside centre coached both Ireland U21s and Ireland A and was a deputy coach for Ulster and then made the head coach in 2004. He was the head coach of the province for three years, during which they won the Celtic League (now also the Pro 12) in 2006 and led nine Ulster players to play in the Irish team, the highest number since the game went professional.[3]

He signed with Guinness Premiership (now the Aviva premiership) side Saracens to join up with new coach Brendan Venter for the 09/10 season as first team coach; after Brendan Venter left midway through the 2010/2011 season he took charge as Director of Rugby, at the beginning of 2013 he renewed his contract until the end of 2015.[4] In the 2010/2011 season his team was unbeaten and went on to win the Premiership.[5] In the 2012 season he managed them to go on to be the only English team to qualify for the Heineken Cup. Since the beginning of the 2011/2012 season McCall's team have played 35 games in the Aviva Premiership and won 26 of them.

He has two children: Bryn McCall who is 14 and Jemma McCall who is 12. His father Conn played cricket for Ireland.[6]

Mark McCall, though he has appeared far less in the news than his predecessor, who was penalised several times for speaking against rugby's organising bodies,[7] was notable in attacking the difficulties being faced by English teams within the Heineken Cup. He complained that the lower salary cap within the Aviva premiership (currently at 4.2 million pounds) was hindering teams playing against French teams with deeper and more experienced teams who could afford to have more valuable players with their higher wage cap. [8] He has also appeared in the news for his radical increasing of the rotation system at Saracens, despite occasional controversy, either on account of lost chances by Saracens or accusations that rotational policy undermines the sport.[9]