John Kirwan stepped down as coach of the Auckland Blues yesterday after failing to bring the desired results to the Super Rugby team after three seasons in charge and said mooted successor Tana Umaga would be “fantastic” for the side.
The Blues won about one-third of their matches while Kirwan was at the helm, finishing last in the New Zealand conference and 14th overall this year having won just three games.
“I love this club and it’s tough to resign,” the former Japan and Italy coach told a media conference in Auckland. “I’ve reflected in the past few days and I’ve taken the decision based on family and results.”
“When you’re a coach, you are here to bring results and I didn’t bring those, and I always said to fans and players that if I’m not delivering that then it’s right that I step aside,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic ride and I’m a better coach than I was three years ago.”
Local media outlets reported earlier yesterday that former All Blacks captain Umaga had already signed a three-year contract to take over next season.
Blues chief executive Michael Redman, who sat next to Kirwan at the media conference, said the board would meet next week to discuss the coaching position.
Kirwan said Umaga, an assistant coach for the under-20 national team, the “Baby Blacks,” could be a good fit for the Blues.
Umaga was with the junior side at the World Cup in Italy, but returned to New Zealand for the funeral of his cousin Jerry Collins, the former All Black skipper who died in a car crash in France earlier this month.
“I think Tana is an outstanding young man,” Kirwan said. “He is a guy who I think would be one of the candidates who would be fantastic for here.”
“He is from the wider region, he is a good man, but ... it is up to the board to make the right decision going forward,” Kirwan said. “What I do know is that the person who comes on board will find a club in better shape than what I did and I think that’s important.”
“As a colleague of the next person who comes in, I am totally available to support [that person] and give any intellectual property ... so whoever that might be they can just pick up the phone and I’ll be there,” he said.
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and
HOTSHOT: Luis Suarez scored his 194th goal for Barca, tying him with Ladislao Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer, behind Cesar Rodriguez and Lionel Messi With another decisive penalty from Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid on Sunday extended their perfect run after the COVID-19 suspension and moved closer to their first Spanish title in three years. Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed as Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to maintain a four-point lead over Barcelona, who beat fifth-placed Villarreal 4-1. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were among the scorers for Barcelona after assists from Lionel Messi. Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to give Madrid their seventh straight victory and they remain the only team with a perfect record since La Liga resumed. “These three points are very