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Mauger sacked as O’Connor returns

Leicester Tigers RFC

Leicester Tigers RFC

Matt O’Connor is to return to Leicester Tigers as head coach with the Australian set to take over from Aaron Mauger next month.

O’Connor won three Premiership titles in his previous spell with the Tigers – and the club are 20/1 to raise the title again this year with Rugby Betting – but left in 2013 and has subsequently worked with Leinster, Queensland Reds and Tonga.

Leicester Tigers club chairman Peter Tom CBE said: “We are delighted that Matt O’Connor has accepted an offer to return to Welford Road.

“The club has conducted an exhaustive search to find who we feel is the right person to take the team forward and this brought up the names of a number of potentially very good coaches. One of the most significant factors in our deliberations was experience of the Premiership and what it takes to win the competition.

“Matt has that experience as head coach during a successful period which brought three league titles, an Anglo-Welsh Cup and the club’s most recent appearance in the European Cup Final. The team also topped the try-scoring figures in the Premiership four times in that five-year period with Matt in charge of the attack.”

Former All Black Mauger, the current head coach, will leave the club after this Saturday’s Premiership fixture against Northampton Saints.

Mauger who previously played centre for the Tigers returned to Welford Road as head coach at the start of last season, a campaign which included appearances in the semi-finals of both the Premiership and European Cup.

The Tigers remain in the fight for places in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals this season and have just won the Anglo-Welsh Cup with Mauger in interim charge of team affairs.

Tom added: “While preparing to welcome Matt, we are also disappointed to lose Aaron.

“Matt’s strengths are in his work with players on the training pitch and we are making changes to our organisational structure to enable him to focus solely on the success of the team.

“We thank Aaron for his commitment to the club over the last two seasons as head coach and especially in his time in interim charge of team affairs in recent months. We wish him well for the future.”

Former Australia international centre O’Connor worked as assistant coach with the Brumbies and Australia ‘A’ before joining Leicester in the summer of 2008, initially as backs coach under Heyneke Meyer and then as head coach with Richard Cockerill.

In his time at the club, Tigers won Premiership titles in 2009, 2010 and 2013, the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2012 and reached the 2009 European Cup Final.

After leaving Welford Road in 2013 to become head coach at Leinster, O’Connor led them to the Celtic League title in his first season and reached the semi-finals of the Champions Cup a year later.

In 2016 he became attack coach and then co-head coach at Super Rugby side Queensland Reds and assistant coach with Tonga as they recorded three wins out of three on their European tour last autumn.

Club captain Tom Youngs said: “Matt has a good record in the Premiership and had a lot of success in his previous spell here. We look forward to working with him again when he arrives next month.

“At the same time, it is disappointing that ‘Mage’ is leaving the club. He’s a good man and a good rugby man who has worked very hard as head coach over the last couple of seasons and goes with our best wishes.”

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