Gloucester have announced the departure of head coach Johan Ackermann, who will join Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July. The South African came to the Gallagher Premiership club at the start of the 2017/18 season from the Lions. 

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He took Gloucester to the final of the European Challenge Cup in his first season and the following season ended with the club in third place in the Premiership, thus qualifying for a second successive season of European Champions Cup rugby.

Ackermann explained: “Being head coach of Gloucester has been a tremendous privilege for me and I have loved every minute of it. Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. 

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“I would especially like to thank Martin (St Quinton, the club chairman) for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me. Gloucester fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the club nothing but the best.”

Gloucester chairman St Quinton added: “I’d look to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the club over the three seasons he’s been with us. 

“His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”

David Humphreys, director of rugby, said: “While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester, I fully understand his reasons for doing so. Johan approached Martin and me to say that he had received a number of coaching opportunities which, for personal reasons, he would like to consider and we agreed to his request.

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“In his three years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his ‘play to inspire’ philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the club. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave Gloucester and I’ve no doubt he’ll make a real difference with the Red Hurricanes in Japan.”

In light of Ackermann’s departure and the implications arising from Covid-19, the Gloucester board have discussed a new coaching structure for the playing department and will make an announcement once appropriate consultations have taken place.

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