Newcastle Falcons have announced head coach Alan Tait is "taking a break" from rugby and have appointed Gary Gold as director of rugby.
The Falcons are bottom of the Premiership and have won only six of 36 league games since Tait took over from Steve Bates in May 2010.
Gold, who has recruited ex-England defence coach Mike Ford, will be in charge for the rest of the season.
Paul Moriarty will oversee Saturday's Challenge Cup visit of Petrarca.
Moriarty, who left Ospreys in the summer of 2010 to work with former Widnes team-mate Tait at Newcastle, will remain at Kingston Park to work with the forwards.
Tait's leave of absence comes after Saturday's 16-10 defeat by Exeter left the Falcons nine points adrift of safety.
"We haven't performed," the ex-Scotland defence coach told BBC Newcastle. "I'm the head coach and I have to take responsibility and that's what I will be doing over the next few days.
"We have to face up to reality and we have just had a meeting with the players and coaches about where we are."
Meanwhile, having agreed a contract until the end of the current season, Gold is relishing the prospect of maintaining a north east influence at rugby union's top table.
"This is an exciting challenge and I am delighted to have the opportunity to work in the Premiership," he said.
"Newcastle Falcons is a big club with big ambitions and an owner who is very determined so anything is possible.
"I know a lot about the players and the traditions of the club so I am really looking forward to the challenge of keeping top-flight rugby in the North East."
In addition to working with the Springboks, Gold has Premiership experience as head coach and assistant at London Irish, as well as coaching Western Province in the Super 14 competition.