Ian McGeechan set to leave Bath

 

Bath have confirmed that rugby director Sir Ian McGeechan will leave the club at the end of this season.

In doing so, the Aviva Premiership club have ended growing speculation about McGeechan's future. His existing two-year contract ends next month.

Bath have suffered an erratic season, finding themselves well adrift of the Premiership play-off race and struggling to secure automatic qualification for next season's Heineken Cup.

Bath's woes were compounded by a 26-6 home defeat against Northampton last Saturday that resulted in the club's coaching staff apologising to supporters for what was an abject performance.

Bath also made a pool stage exit from this season's Heineken Cup, which would have been a source of huge frustration for their multi-millionaire owner Bruce Craig.

The club say they are making "good progress" in identifying a new head coach, claiming a new structure and coaches will be agreed and in place during the summer in readiness for next season.

McGeechan, 65, initially joined Bath as performance director. He held previous coaching roles with Northampton and Wasps, and is synonymous with the British and Irish Lions, having headed up four tours during a 20-year spell.

Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld said: "We would like to thank 'Geech' for his time with the club and for his assistance in developing the culture at the club through this transitional period.

"An announcement regarding a new head coach will be made in due course."

McGeechan added: "I've really enjoyed being part of Bath Rugby and the challenge of leading the cultural change that has taken place, particularly over the last 18 months.

"The commitment of the players and staff during this significant transitional period has been outstanding.

"I will now take on the responsibility as head coach for the last three games."

Bath say they will be making no further comment at this stage.

Several names have already been linked with taking over from McGeechan at the Recreation Ground.

These include Gary Gold, who is currently in temporary charge of Premiership relegation favourites Newcastle, and his fellow South African Nick Mallett, who recently missed out behind Stuart Lancaster to be appointed England head coach.

London Irish backs coach and former Bath player Mike Catt could also feature on Bath's radar as they aim to regroup and reposition themselves in readiness for next term.

Former Scotland coach McGeechan took charge of the Lions in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009, while he was rugby director at Northampton during the late 1990s before heading back to Murrayfield as Scotland's rugby director.

He then took over at Wasps in 2005, landing the Heineken Cup during his second season at the helm, and moved to Bath almost two years ago following a brief stint as coaching advisor with their west country rivals Gloucester.

Bath have three Premiership games remaining this season - against Sale Sharks, Wasps and Leicester - in an attempt to secure top-flight European qualification.

PA

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