Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill has left the region with immediate effect during his third season in charge.
The Australian’s departure comes after Blues suffered their sixth loss in ten games this season, defeated 17-3 at home to the Ospreys on New Year’s Day.
Mulvihill was in the final year of his contract at Cardiff Arms Park, having succeeded Danny Wilson as head coach ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Their fourth-place standing in the PRO14 resonates with Mulvihill’s two previous disappointing campaigns, where Blues finished fourth and fifth to miss out on the play-offs on both occasions.
Mulvihill holds more than 20 years of experience coaching at the top level, including stints as both assistant and interim head coach with Super Rugby’s Western Force and in Japan’s Top League with Kintetsu Liners and then Honda Heat.
Cardiff Blues are yet to officially announce Mulvihill’s departure, but it is understood the playing squad have been told that he will be absent in their preparation for this week’s clash against Scarlets.
Defence coach Richard Hodges will oversee first-team matters ahead of the visit of their Welsh rival on Saturday.
Mulvihill’s exit will fuel speculation about the future role of Dwayne Peel, who has already agreed to join Blues from Ulster this summer as senior assistant coach.
Peel’s duties would focus on the team’s attack, but the region’s board will now have to consider whether to upgrade his responsibilities or conduct a full search for a new head coach.