Richard Cockerill: Leicester Tigers sack director of rugby

Former Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill
Leicester Tigers never missed out on reaching the Premiership semi-finals under Richard Cockerill

Leicester Tigers have sacked director of rugby Richard Cockerill after nearly eight years in charge.

The 46-year-old has been on the Premiership club's coaching staff since 2004, took over as head coach in 2009 and became director of rugby in 2010.

"It is with great sadness and regret that I leave my position. I still believe that I am the right person to lead the team," Cockerill said.

Head coach Aaron Mauger will take over on an interim basis.

Tigers' achievements under Cockerill
Leicester won three Premiership titles under Cockerill and were twice runners-up
Leicester were runners-up in the European Cup in Cockerill's first season in charge and won the LV Cup in 2011-12

Tigers are fifth in the Premiership, 15 points adrift of leaders Wasps having lost five of their 12 league games so far this season. They were beaten 16-12 by Saracens on New Year's Day.

Cockerill, who has spent 23 of the last 25 years of his career with Tigers, said he "respected the board's decision" to make a change they see as being "in the best interests of the club".

He added: "This club has made me the person and the coach I am today and I will never forget what they have done for me. I will miss being part of the Tigers family."

Last month, following the 18-16 Champions Cup win over Munster, Cockerill said reports claiming he faced the sack and that described the coaching structure at Leicester Tigers as toxic were "rubbish".

A Leicester legend

Former England and Tigers hooker Cockerill spent 10 years with the club as a player from 1992 before returning to Welford Road as an academy coach.

After two spells in interim charge he was appointed full-time head coach in April 2009, with Tigers winning the Premiership title and reaching the European Cup final in his first season in the role.

Leicester have never failed to reach the Premiership semi-finals under Cockerill and as well as winning the final in 2008-09, they were also victorious in 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Tigers chairman Peter Tom CBE said: "We thank Richard for his loyal and dedicated service as a player, coach and director of rugby. He has a great passion for the club and for the game of rugby, and has shared in many massive occasions with the Tigers.

"The club always has aspirations to contest the major honours in the game and that remains unchanged but the board believes this is the right time to make a change."

As a player, hooker Cockerill made 262 appearances for Tigers, winning five league titles, two domestic cups, two Heineken Cups and he also played 27 times for England.

Analysis

BBC Radio Leicester commentator and ex-Tigers fly-half Bleddyn Jones

I am not surprised. Tigers cannot stand the fact they are in fifth position and quite a bit away from the top four; they want to be top two and won't get there this season.

They haven't been there for the last three or four seasons and that is one of the reasons that Tigers have reluctantly had to say goodbye to Richard.

His record is second to none. He is man and boy with the Tigers and if you cut him in half he would be Tigers colours through and through.

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