Munster trailblazer Jerry Holland dies aged 66

A manager with the EBS in Cork, he decided not to apply for a full-time director of coaching role at Munster in 1997 and was replaced by Declan Kidney, but he continued to assist with the preparation of the first team.
Munster trailblazer Jerry Holland dies aged 66

Jerry Holland and Paul O'Connell in the changing room ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Munster Rugby’s first head coach of the professional era, Jerry Holland, has died at the age of 66, following an illness.

His death was confirmed on Sunday in a statement from Munster Rugby which read: “It is with great sadness that Munster Rugby have learned of the passing of Jerry Holland after illness. 

A legend of rugby in Munster, Jerry excelled as a player, coach, team manager and administrator.” 

The Cork man played in the second row for UCC, Cork Constitution and Munster before moving to Dublin where he represented Wanderers and Leinster.

He represented Ireland on tour against South Africa in 1981 and against Wales in the 1986 Five Nations, an honour shared with son Billy, who was capped in 2016 and played 247 games for his province between 2007 and 2021.

He continued his involvement in the game long after he retired as a player, as both a coach and manager.

As Munster head coach from 1994 to 1997, he twice won the IRFU Interprovincial Championship and was a guiding hand in the province’s transition from the amateur era when the game went professional in 1995.

A manager with the EBS in Cork, he decided not to apply for a full-time director of coaching role at Munster in 1997 and was replaced by Declan Kidney, but he continued to assist with the preparation of the first team.

He later returned as manager of the province in the summer of 2000, following a stint as Ireland A coach.

He bowed out as team manager in 2007, handing the reins to the recently retired player Shaun Payne, whom he assisted in an advisory capacity as Munster won a second Heineken Cup in 2008.

The commitment to rugby continued though as Holland returned to his club, becoming Cork Con’s director of rugby in 2010, also serving as the club’s president in 2016, the year he was also at Aviva Stadium to watch son Billy capped by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt against Canada.

When Billy retired from professional rugby in 2021, father and son were honoured as joint winners of the Cork Person of the Month award that May in recognition of their immense contribution to Munster rugby.

Award organiser Manus O’Callaghan said he was an enormous loss to Cork and to rugby.

I knew him to speak to over the years, and he was a hugely popular man, with a lovely personality,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

From left: Jerry Holland, Tom McCarthy and Billy Holland at the Cork Person of the Year Awards ceremony which took place at the Rochestown Park Hotel. Pic: Brian Lougheed
From left: Jerry Holland, Tom McCarthy and Billy Holland at the Cork Person of the Year Awards ceremony which took place at the Rochestown Park Hotel. Pic: Brian Lougheed

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130
EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more