Thursday 24 May 2018

Major setback for Ulster as Gibbes announces decision to leave

Gibbes:
Gibbes: "The decision to leave here is a difficult one professionally, because I support the team and the staff, and I am excited for what the future holds for them." Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Chris Butler

Coach Jono Gibbes will leave Ulster at the end of the season, the province has revealed.

Gibbes, who was put in charge of team selection in January following the departure of Les Kiss, is returning to New Zealand.

He only joined the province last summer and has been linked with the role of set-piece coach for the Wallabies but has recently dismissed that speculation.

Ulster are currently outside the play-off places in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 and are enduring their worst season in some time.

Commenting on his decision, Gibbes said: "Being a long way from home for the last 10 years has made me prioritise things above my career and so I'll be returning at the end of this season for family reasons.

"The decision to leave here is a difficult one professionally, because I support the team and the staff, and I am excited for what the future holds for them. I believe there are enough passionate and professional people involved to build on the existing strong foundations of the club.

"The challenge ahead for Ulster demands the full attention of everyone involved; the management group, the team, the coaches and support staff.

"It is exciting and achievable. However, I cannot in good conscience give my full attention for the journey ahead.

"My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Ulster to date and we're very grateful for the welcome and good spirit afforded to us.

"I wish the team and the club all the very best for the future, and I am grateful for their understanding and support."

Ulster operations director Bryn Cunningham added: "While it's clearly disappointing to lose a coach of Jono's experience and quality, we fully understand and support his decision as family must always come first.

"We'd like to thank Jono for his dedication thus far and I know that he will be fully committed to us until the end of the season.

"A review of the coaching structure is ongoing and the desired outcome of this will be to provide us with a strong, well-balanced coaching team and some long-term stability."

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