Sacked Leicester director or rugby Richard Cockerill insists Tigers chiefs have made the wrong decision in terminating his long association with the club.
Leicester acted on Monday just hours after the 16-12 New Year’s Day defeat to Saracens – a third loss in four games for the 10-time champions, who have slipped out of the Premiership play-off places.
“It is with great sadness and regret that I leave my position as director of rugby with immediate effect,” said Cockerill, who has spent 23 years at the club as a player and coach.
“I still believe that I am the right person to lead the team at this present time but respect the board’s decision to make change as they see fit in the best interests of the club.”
Cockerill's record in charge
Former England hooker Cockerill, 46, took over as Leicester head coach in April 2009 and led them to consecutive Premiership titles.
He guided Tigers to a third crown in 2013 and never failed to finish in the top four, although that run has come under threat this season, while Leicester also suffered the embarrassment of a 38-0 European Champions Cup defeat at Munster last month.
Aaron Mauger, head coach under Cockerill, has been placed in temporary charge. They visit league leaders Wasps on Sunday.
What Leicester said
“We thank Richard for his loyal and dedicated service as a player, coach and director of rugby,” said Leicester chairman Peter Tom.
“The club always has aspirations to contest the major honours in the game and that remains unchanged but the board believes this is the right time to make a change.”