Richard Cockerill has been sacked as director of rugby at Leicester Tigers with Aaron Mauger taking interim charge of the team with immediate effect.
The Tigers currently lie in fifth place in the Premiership, five points behind Bath and they are also five points behind Pool 1 leaders Glasgow in the Champions Cup, however the Leicester board believe now is the right time to make a change.
Former Tigers and England hooker Cockerill has been on the coaching staff since 2004 and became director of rugby in 2010 but was let go after his team’s 12-16 defeat to Saracens at the weekend.
Cockerill said: “It is with great sadness and regret that I leave my position as director of rugby with immediate effect. I still believe that I am the right person to lead the team at this present time but respect the Board’s decision to make change as they see fit in the best interests of the club.
“I wish to thank the club and in particular Simon Cohen and Peter Tom for giving me the opportunity to lead this great club and the support they have given me in the last seven years.
“I arrived back at the club in 2004 as an academy coach and leave as DOR with a record that speaks for itself and stands up against any in club rugby in the world.
“This club has made me the person and the coach I am today and I will never forget what they have done for me.
“I wish Tom Youngs and the team the very best for the future and will miss being part of the Tigers Family.”
Cockerill joined the club as a player in 1992 and made 262 appearances, winning five league titles, two domestic cups and back-to-back European Cups. He also earned 27 caps for England.
After two years with Montferrand in France, Cockerill returned to the Tigers for a second spell as a player and joined the coaching staff, initially with the academy.
He then worked as forwards coach and twice as interim head coach before being named head coach as Tigers won the Premiership title and reached the European Cup Final in 2009.
Tigers retained the Premiership crown in 2010 and Cockerill became director of rugby in July that year. The team reached the Premiership Final again in 2011 and 2012, as well as winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2011/12, and the team collected a record 10th league title with victory in May 2013.
Tigers chairman Peter Tom CBE said: “We thank Richard for his loyal and dedicated service as a player, coach and director of rugby. He has a great passion for the club and for the game of rugby, and has shared in many massive occasions with the Tigers.
“The club always has aspirations to contest the major honours in the game and that remains unchanged but the board believes this is the right time to make a change.”
Tigers head coach Mauger will be in interim charge of team affairs working with coaches Richard Blaze and Geordan Murphy.
The Tigers board will now conduct a review of the coaching structure and will not make any further comment at this stage.
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