19 Jun 2015

Kirwan quits as Blues coach

3:15 pm on 19 June 2015

Sir John Kirwan has resigned as head coach of the Blues Super Rugby team.

Kirwan, who has been head coach for three years, has announced that he will not seek reappointment for a further term as coach and will step aside, effective immediately.

Sir John's position was under intense scrutiny following the Blues' worst ever season, when they won just three games and finished 14th.

In his two previous years in charge the Blues finished 10th in both 2013 and 2014.

Sir John Kirwan smiles as he leaves the media conference announcing his resignation

Sir John Kirwan leaving the media conference after announcing his resignation. Photo: Photosport

While Kirwan had put up a proposal to the Blues board for his continued involvement, he said 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."

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan (file) Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Blues board, which had been deadlocked over whether to reappoint Kirwan after his three year contract expired, will meet on Monday night over who the next coach will be.

Fairfax reported that the former All Black captain Tana Umaga was in line to replace Kirwan.

After leaving New Zealand rugby, Umaga took up a player-coaching role with Toulon in France, before returning in 2011 to take up a similar role with Counties Manukau, who he won the second division provincial Championship with in 2012.

Sir John says Umaga would do a great job. "I think Tana's (an) outstanding young man, he has been (on) a similar pathway to me. He is a guy who I think would be one of the candidates, would be fantastic for here. He's from the greater region, he's a good man but for me it's really up to the board to make the right decision moving forward."

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