Bristol Bears have appointed Dave Ward as head coach four months after Kim Oliver left the role at the Allianz Premier 15s club.
Ward will vacates his position as forwards coach at Championship club Ampthill at the end of the season to move to Shaftesbury Park, where Tom Lindsay and Amber Reed had assumed charge on an interim basis.
Bristol have lost six of their last seven matches in the Premier 15s, including last week’s 34-17 defeat to DMP Sharks – a team who had not won this season.
“The opportunity to come back to my hometown of Bristol is something I’m really looking forward to,” said Ward, the spouse of England lock Abbie Ward.
“I’m extremely excited to get to work with the quality players and staff that Bristol Bears have in their high-performance environment. The ambition of the club is there for all to see and that is to be competing at the top end of the Allianz Premier 15s table.”
Ward has made over 300 appearances at the professional level in stints at Cornish Pirates, Harlequins and Ampthill, working on a player-coach basis at Dillingham Park.
Ward added: “I would like to thank Mark Lavery (director of rugby) and Paul Turner (head coach) for the opportunity to progress my rugby career at Ampthill. I’ve enjoyed every minute at this fantastic community club where the support of the Committee, members and sponsors has been superb in what has been a very difficult year for everyone.
“Everybody who knows me, knows how passionate I am about women’s rugby and my experience at Ampthill has helped prepare me for my next challenge as a full-time coach
“Lastly, I would like to thank the players. Their commitment and endeavour never fails to surprise me – to not only have full time jobs but to compete with some of the very best players in the country. I’ve loved every minute and will no doubt be following the club’s progress for years to come.”