Chris Boyd has revealed the inability to see his family because of the coronavirus pandemic motivated his decision to step down as Northampton director of rugby at the end of the season.
Boyd will conclude his four-year tenure at Franklin’s Gardens when he returns to his native New Zealand after the summer, but he will take up an advisory role overseeing the promotion of Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty.
An internal reshuffle sees Dowson become director of rugby with Vesty, who is currently responsible for the attack, filling his position as head coach.
Although Boyd will occasionally visit the East Midlands to fulfil his consultancy duties, the urge to be reunited with his family compelled him to turn down the option for a fifth season.
“Covid was the factor. If we had maybe been able to get over to see the kids and now the grandchildren…I’ve only seen my own kids once in four years,” the 63-year-old said.
“If I wanted to get home now I couldn’t, I still can’t get into my own country because only citizens are allowed there and it’s on a strict ballot system. There are 50,000 people trying to get into 1,500 spots continually.
“That’s been tough and it’s only been made sustainable by the fact that we’ve so much enjoyed our time here, albeit with our wings clipped in terms of doing the things you’d like to do around the rugby.
“It’s balanced out the downside, otherwise we’d have probably gone home after three years.
“Cinch Stadium is as good as any in the world when it’s rocking. Northampton are a proper rugby club with proper people. I’ve really, really enjoyed my time here but family will always come first for me.”
Boyd insists Northampton have “unfinished business” before his departure as he looks to improve on the appearances in the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals and last eight of the Heineken Champions Cup that are the highlights of his stewardship.
In addition, he must accelerate the development of Dowson and Vesty as the league continues to invest in English coaches.
“Their apprenticeship into these roles have probably been going on for 18 months,” Boyd said.
“Sam’s as good a backs and attack coach as I’ve worked with in 20 years of professional rugby in any place. His role won’t change much.
“It’s a new role for Phil and I think he has the ability and capacity to grow exponentially.
“Directors of rugby are not about rugby, they’re about programme management and people management. And he has a great capacity to do both.”
Boyd has ruled out accepting any significant post once he is back in New Zealand.
“I want to make it a good transition and that will be relatively time consuming. I want to put all my energy into that,” he said.
“I also want to be re-established back home from a family and mates point of view. I need to do some more fishing, play more golf and see some mates.”
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