ROWLAND Phillips has been named London Welsh’s new head coach, with Justin Burnell leaving the club.

Phillips, who takes over with immediate effect, was the Exiles’ defence coach.

Burnell was appointed head coach in June 2013 and led the club into the Aviva Premiership last season.

However, the 47-year-old has been unable to prevent the Exiles from losing all 27 league and cup matches this year.

Phillips said: “I am very proud to be leading the coaching of this great club.

“It’s been a very tough season in the Premiership trying to play with a squad built on an uneven financial playing field.

  • Sport
    Latest Sport news

“But the boys are determined to rescue something from this season.”

London Welsh chairman Bleddyn Phillips added: “I would like to add my sincere thanks and very best wishes to Justin and his family for the future.

“The harsh reality is that the club has had a mountain to climb in terms of now well documented challenges on the financial and structural regime presently in place in Premiership rugby which any coach or club would, to put it mildly, find daunting.

“And we must not forget the tremendous success we achieved last season in winning again the Championship, against all odds, under his coaching leadership.”

The Exiles have picked up just one bonus point and are 24 adrift at the bottom of the table with five matches remaining.

Welsh are on course to become, statistically, the worst side in top-flight history, and are set to be relegated when league action resumes on March 29.

Burnell made 26 signings in the summer in a bid to ensure the club was competitive at the highest level.

However, even World Cup winning scrum half Piri Weepu and former England fly half Olly Barkley have been able to prevent the Exiles conceding more than 1,000 points in all competitions.

Weepu has already left for Wasps, while Carl Kirwan and Opeti Fonua have sealed moves away from the club in the summer.

In January, the Exiles argued that their efforts had been hampered by a lack of parity in funding and claimed they received £2million less than other clubs.