Brian McLaughlin to leave job as Ulster coach and move to Academy
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin will leave the job at the end of the season and take up a role in the club's Academy, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
Ravenhill chiefs have decided not to renew McLaughlin's contract and to bring in a new team boss.
"I'm disappointed because I feel I haven't finished the job yet - I would like to be going on further but that is not the case," said McLaughlin.
"There is never a good time to get news like this and I have to deal with it."
"I believe we have the players and the present coaching team are more than good enough.
"I don't see it as a sacking, I see it as a move sideways."
McLaughlin succeeded Australian Matt Williams in 2009.
The former head of PE at Belfast school RBAI is in his third season as Ulster coach and has guided them to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the last two.
Last season the former Ireland skills coach also steered Ulster to the Pro12 play-offs.
The stunning 41-7 victory over Leicester in mid-January was further evidence of a team in the ascendancy.
"I'm grateful to the Ulster Branch for offering me the safety net of another contract, but I'm a little bit disappointed I am having to use the safety net quite so quickly," added McLaughlin.
"I have the rest of the season to consider with the huge challenge ahead in the PRO12 and Heineken Cup.
"I am in no doubt the squad and my coaching staff will do me proud and make sure I leave this job successfully, and I am looking forward to my new role.
"I believe I have taken the team forward and they have progressed, and I'm disappointed not to be able to continue in the job."
David Humphreys, Ulster Director of Rugby, praised McLaughlin for his achievements as coach.
"In professional sport there are long-term and short-term objectives and as part of our long-term strategy we are making a change to our head coach position," said Humphreys.
"There's no doubting what Brian has achieved in his tenure as Head Coach over the past two and a half years and we hope that there is more to come this season as we prepare for the Heineken Cup quarter-final and push for a play-off place in the PRO12.
"We are aiming to make Ulster Rugby a leading force in European rugby and to do that we need to develop our Academy system and elite player pathway.
"Brian has a proven record and a genuine interest in this area and this role offers him an opportunity to shape the future of Ulster Rugby. Our youngsters will benefit enormously from his experience."
Humphreys added that Ulster are in "negotiations and discussions" with a number of candidates for the coaching post.