Former Darling Downs rugby coach Evan Willis (right) presents Toowoomba Rangers captain Marcus Filipetto with the 2011 Downs Rugby Club Championship trophy following last month’s Risdon Cup grand final at USQ Oval.
Former Darling Downs rugby coach Evan Willis (right) presents Toowoomba Rangers captain Marcus Filipetto with the 2011 Downs Rugby Club Championship trophy following last month’s Risdon Cup grand final at USQ Oval. KEVIN FARMER

Skipper slots into coaching role

DOWNS Rugby has moved quickly to fill the gap left by departing representative coach Evan Willis.

Willis will end his association with Darling Downs rugby in January after accepting a job promotion in Brisbane.

Willis has been involved in the sport on the Downs as a player and coach since 1997.

He coached Toowoomba Bears to their first Risdon Cup title win in 2008 and more recently was the club's coaching director.

Despite stepping down from his Downs role, Willis will retain his Queensland Country and South Queensland coaching positions for 2012.

Downs Rugby has announced Andrew Skipper as head coach of next season's Darling Downs senior representative team.

Skipper is a Level Two accredited coach with the Australian Rugby Union and Level Three with the English Rugby Football Union.

He has worked in professional coaching and rugby development in the UK for the past nine years.

Downs Rugby general manager Cameron Donaldson said Skipper's appointment will help soften the impact of Willis's departure.

"Evan is an impressive individual and his departure is a huge loss to rugby in our region," Donaldson said. "He's raised the bar in his time in the job and has positioned it well. But we are lucky to have Andrew come along at the right time and are delighted to have him on board."

Willis said accepting the position of principal at Pullenvale State School was a difficult personal decision.

"Professionally it is the right decision - the school has a fantastic reputation," Willis said.

"But having to move a young family is a tough call.

"I've made a lot of friends here, particularly in rugby, and I'd like to thank everyone for their support over the years.

"I'll continue my country coaching next year, but beyond that I'm not certain what I'll do in rugby.

"My first priority will be settling into the job.

"But where we will live is pretty close to the Wests and GPS area so perhaps I can become involved there somehow."

Willis also coached the Downs primary school touch team to three state finals and one title win.



‘He lost a lot of blood’: Cop reveals harrowing ordeal

Premium Content ‘He lost a lot of blood’: Cop reveals harrowing ordeal

In the race to save a life, Jarrod French says every minute counts

BARGAIN: Snap up an abandoned bomb courtesy of Council

Premium Content BARGAIN: Snap up an abandoned bomb courtesy of Council

Find the perfect present for that special someone with some of the best abandoned...

Changes spell end of dolphin ‘abuse-ment’ parks: MP

Premium Content Changes spell end of dolphin ‘abuse-ment’ parks: MP

Animal welfare activists are hoping the government will now also support moves to...