Chiefs Super Rugby coach Colin Cooper has stepped down with a year left on his contract after the two-time champions exited in this season’s quarter-finals.
Chiefs coach Colin Cooper has unexpectedly stepped down from the role with the Super Rugby franchise despite having a year to run on his contract.
The 60-year-old was in charge at the Hamilton-based side for the past two seasons and guided them to the Super Rugby quarter-finals on both occasions.
The start of a new World Cup cycle from next season was a factor in Cooper’s decision, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said.
“Next year is a post-World Cup year when there is a lot of player movement within Super Rugby and clubs are beginning the next four-year cycle,” said Tew, whose organisation has a say in employing the Super Rugby coaches.
“Taking that into consideration, both Colin and the club have spoken at length over several weeks and agree that the time is right for a new coach to take the Chiefs into 2020 and beyond.”
Cooper, who was in charge of the Hurricanes for eight seasons before coaching provincial side Taranaki from 2010-2017, succeeded Dave Rennie at the Chiefs.
“The role of the head coach has evolved so much over the past five or six years,” Cooper said.
“My passion is hands-on on-the-field coaching, but with bigger playing numbers and more staff involved these days, I am getting taken further and further away from my passion.”
Former Waikato stalwart Warren Gatland, who is leaving the Wales job after this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, had previously said he was interested in returning to a Super Rugby coaching role in New Zealand.
Gatland, however, was re-appointed earlier this month as British and Irish Lions coach for their 2021 tour of South Africa.