Callard added to top-flight casualties

Bath coach's exit fuels fears that Premiership clubs lack patience and that the chequebook rules all
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They wanted a professional game and it looks like rugby union has precisely that, even down to the cliché-ridden coaching swings and managerial roundabouts that are a feature of professional football.

Yesterday Jon Callard parted company with Bath, to become the sixth Premiership casualty of the season – which represents a staggering 50 per cent of the top-flight clubs. Callard joins an exodus which has seen Philippe Saint-André leave Gloucester, John Kingston take a demotion at Harlequins, John Steele get shunted upstairs at Northampton, Francois Pienaar step down at Saracens and Nigel Melville voluntarily end a six-year reign at Wasps.

It would appear that patience is not a virtue to be found in the new, "harder" world of rugby union, instead there would appear to be an unrealistic expectation that money can buy near instant success and when it does not the chequebook stubs come flying out of the fat wallets, rather in the manner of toys from rich kids' prams as backers balk at perceived failure.

Ostensibly, the former England full-back left his post as head coach, but in fact, after his Australian assistant Michael Foley was made "team director" over his former boss, Callard was offered the chance to hang on to the title of head coach. Since that would have placed him third in the pecking order, because Bath intend advertising for a director of rugby to work under Foley, Callard naturally declined.

Callard, who won the Heineken Cup for Bath when he scored all 19 points against Brive in 1998, took over from Andy Robinson in June, 2000 when Robinson joined England's coaching staff, and his haul of 1,175 points for Bath in the top flight of league rugby is a record by an individual.

Callard left following talks with the millionaire club owner Andrew Brownsword over the last few days. "With the difference of opinion on the way the club should move forward, it has been agreed by both parties to go our separate ways," Callard said.

Bath, six times English champions and 10 times domestic cup winners, are currently experiencing one of their poorest seasons for years. They lie ninth in the Zurich Premiership and risk missing out on Heineken Cup qualification for next season. They bowed out of Europe this season when their quarter-final opponents, Llanelli, crushed them 27-10 at the Recreation Ground and made an early exit from the Powergen Cup.

Callard, who joined Bath from Newport during the late 1980s, had his finest moment at Stade Lescure in Bordeaux when the West Country outfit stunned the defending European champions, Brive, 19-18, Callard contributing a try, conversion and four penalties, his final kick coming just two minutes from time.

As a coach, however, he has been unable to end Bath's six-year wait for domestic success since they landed a league and cup double under Phil de Glanville's captaincy in 1996.

Saracens, who are struggling to fill their coaching vacancy, have welcomed Peter Deakin back to Vicarage Road from Sale, as chief executive of the Watford-based club.

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