Blues

Kirwan steps down as Blues Super Rugby coach

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Auckland based Super Rugby franchise the Blues have confirmed that Sir John
Kirwan has resigned his role as head coach with immediate effect.

Kirwan has been the Blues head coach for the last three years and has the lowest
win percentage of all recent Blues coaches.

Former All Black Tana Umaga is expected to be named as his successor in the
coming days.

Fairfax Media have reported that Umaga has agreed to take over at the Blues in 2016
on a three-year contract.

The 74-Test All Black is currently earning his coaching stripes with Counties
Manukau in the provincial ITM Cup after a stint as player-manager at Toulon
in France.

The Blues would only say an announcement on Kirwan’s successor would be made
“as soon as practicable”, although the outgoing coach enthusiastically
backed Umaga.

“I think Tana is an outstanding young man… he is a guy who I think would
be one of the candidates who would be fantastic for here,” Kirwan told
reporters.

Kirwan said he would be happy to offer advice to whoever took over, adding:
“They can just pick up the phone and I’ll be there.”

Kirwan had put up a proposal to the Blues Board for his continued involvement,
he said that he had reconsidered over the past few days after talking with his
family, colleagues and friends.

“I had a chance to take a breath and reflect about the situation, my
future and above all my love of this Blues club and the players,” Kirwan
said.

“People who know me well know that I do not walk away from a challenge
and that was what was driving me because I know what has been set-up in terms
of organisational structure in the last two years.

“However I always said that if I didn’t bring about the results that
the players, the club and the fans wanted, then I would step aside.”

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said he supported Sir John Kirwan’s
decision to step down from the Blues Head Coach role.

“John has given his all for the Blues. He has worked very hard to try and turn
the team’s fortunes around in what is one of the toughest rugby competitions
in the world and we appreciate the contribution he has made.

“Unfortunately the results have not been as we all would have wanted and he
has made the call to step aside to allow for a fresh start for the team in 2016.
We support that decision, thank JK sincerely and wish him all the best for the
future.”

Kirwan, who played 63 times for the All Blacks and 142 for Auckland, has previously
coached the national teams of Italy and Japan before returning to take up the
head coach role at the Blues in 2013.

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