Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann has left the club and agreed a move to Japan’s Top League.
Ackermann signed a contract extension only last May with the Cherry and Whites, but will depart Kingsholm for NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
As reported in The Rugby Paper last Sunday, Ackermann was the primary target for the Japanese club and rumours have since surfaced of the Gloucester playing squad being unhappy with the South African’s methods.
The exit of Ackermann ends a three-year association with Gloucester, who have struggled in the Premiership this season in losing nine of their 13 matches.
“Being head coach of Gloucester Rugby has been a tremendous privilege for me, and I have loved every minute of it,” Ackermann said. “Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience.
“I would especially like to thank Martin [St Quinton] for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me.
“Gloucester Rugby fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the club nothing but the best.”
Ackermann took the Cherry and Whites to the Challenge Cup final in Bilbao in his first season in charge, after joining from the Lions.
Despite losing to Cardiff Blues 31-30, a place in the Premiership semi-finals came the following season but Saracens would proe too strong.
Gloucester chairman Martin St Quinton thanked Ackermann for his contribution to the club.
“I’d like to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the club over the three seasons he’s been with us.
“His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”
David Humphreys, director of rugby, added: “While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester Rugby, I fully understand his reasons for doing so. Johan approached Martin and me to say that he had received a number of coaching opportunities which, for personal reasons, he would like to consider and we agreed to his request.
“In his 3 years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his “play to inspire” philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the club. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave Gloucester and I’ve no doubt he’ll make a real difference with the Red Hurricanes in Japan.”
Humphreys is expected to take a more hands-on role until Ackermann’s successor is confirmed.
Former Wasps director of rugby Dai Young and ex-Wales attack coach Rob Howley have been linked to the post.
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