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Johan Ackermann ends three-year spell with Gloucester to coach in Japan

Head coach Johan Ackermann said his goodbyes to more than 100 of Gloucester’s players and staff on a Zoom call on Thursday evening before joining Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan with immediate effect.

Rory Teague, the club’s skills coach, is the frontrunner to succeed Ackermann, at least in the short term, with director of rugby David Humphreys taking on more of a hands on role. Ackermann, who guided Gloucester into the play-offs last season after joining in the club in 2017, cited personal reasons for his departure. Telegraph Sport understands that is related to his family struggling to settle in the south west with a contract in Japan allowing Ackermann to spend much more time in his native South Africa. 

Prior to the suspension of the Gallagher Premiership season the club were struggling to match last season’s achievements, sitting in ninth place after winning only four of their 13 league matches. “It was quite emotional for him to say goodbye,” Gloucester chief executive Lance Bradley told Telegraph Sport. “It’s not ideal to do it over a Zoom call but we were able to get over 100 people together to do that, administrators, finance guys, cleaners, marketing, players, coaches. For everyone to feel part of the announcement and the club was a good thing.

“Johan is a very honourable man, has always been quite honest in his approach to everything. When he came to us and said for personal reasons I would like to pursue these opportunities, we agreed to it. He has had a huge influence on the club. His ‘Play to Inspire’ philosophy has really lit things up for us.”

There were reports of player unrest prior to Ackermann’s departure although those claims were played down by a source to Telegraph Sport before Friday’s announcement, with Bradley also dismissing the speculation. “Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth,” Bradley said.

“Look, we can’t say that everybody was ecstatic with how the season was going. We’re ninth and came third last season. That was not what any of us wanted. That is not the reason that Johan is moving on. We know the reasons we were losing games, and often by quite fine margins. But is that the reason he has gone? Not at all.”

Source: Telegraph UK

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