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Ackermann leaves Gloucester Rugby for Japan

Picture: Martin Bennett/Gloucester Rugby

Gloucester Rugby head coach Johan Ackermann is leaving Kingsholm after almost three years to take a new role in Japan.

After growing speculation, the club this morning confirmed his departure to NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

Chairman Martin St Quinton said: "I'd like to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he's made to the club over the three seasons he's been with us.

"His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans' favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department."

The former South African lock joined Gloucester in 2017, guiding them to the European Challenge Cup final in his first season and the Premiership play-offs last year.

He said: "Being head coach of Gloucester has been a tremendous privilege for me and I have loved every minute of it.

"Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. Gloucester fans are a truly unique group and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm.

"I wish the club nothing but the best."

In an email to fans, chief executive Lance Bradley confirmed Ackermann had approached the club a few weeks ago asking for permission to pursue other potential coaching opportunities for personal reasons.

He said: "As we have known about Johan's plans for a little while, David Humphreys (director of rugby) has drawn up a shortlist of potential candidates.

"Now that things are finalised between Johan and the Red Hurricanes, we can start the process of approaching our potential candidates."

Gloucester have been linked with several high-profile replacements, among them former England coach Stuart Lancaster, former Leicester and current Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill and ex-Wasps head coach Dai Young.

The club statement said the board has discussed a new coaching structure in light of Ackermann's departure and the implications of the coronavirus crisis.

Any restructuring may see them look for an internal candidate such as ex-player Rory Teague.

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