Leicester sack director of rugby Richard Cockerill
Leicester have sacked director of rugby Richard Cockerill, with head coach Aaron Mauger taking "interim charge" at Welford Road.
The Tigers have dropped out of the Aviva Premiership's play-off berths after consecutive defeats to Exeter and Saracens, following closely from the record 38-0 European defeat at the hands of Munster.
Former England hooker Cockerill has coached at Leicester since 2004 and took the full reins as rugby director in 2010.
Leicester's slender 16-12 defeat to Saracens at Welford Road on New Year's Day proved the final straw for the Tigers board, who have moved swiftly to unseat their former front-rower Cockerill.
"It is with great sadness and regret that I leave my position as director of rugby with immediate effect," said Cockerill.
"I still believe that I am the right person to lead the team at this present time but respect the board's decision to make the change as they see fit in the best interests of the club.
"I wish to thank the club and in particular (chief executive) Simon Cohen and (chairman) Peter Tom for giving me the opportunity to lead this great club and the support they have given me in the last seven years.
"I arrived back at the club in 2004 as an academy coach and leave as director of rugby with a record that speaks for itself and stands up against any in club rugby in the world.
"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 wish (club captain) Tom Youngs and the team the very best for the future and will miss being part of the Tigers family."
Former All Blacks centre Mauger will take coaching control while Leicester launch their search for Cockerill's successor.
"Tigers head coach Aaron Mauger will be in interim charge of team affairs working with coaches Richard Blaze and Geordan Murphy and the existing support staff," read Leicester's statement.
"The board will also conduct a review of the coaching structure to determine an appropriate way forward."
Cockerill made 262 appearances as a hooker at Leicester between 1992 and 2002, winning five league titles, two domestic cups and back-to-back European crowns.
The 46-year-old, who won 27 caps for England, returned to Leicester after a spell in France, working through the coaching hierarchy before taking overall control in 2010.
Cockerill led Leicester to the Premiership final in 2011 and 2012, before his Tigers side lifted the league title in 2013.
"We thank Richard for his loyal and dedicated service as a player, coach and director of rugby," said Leicester chairman Tom.
"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."