London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy is leaving the club with immediate effect.

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His departure had been rumoured ever since former Ireland head coach Declan Kidney was announced as the clubs new technical consultant, with ex-Ulster boss Les Kiss being appointed as head coach for next season.

The 35-year-old had been given the opportunity to stay in his job, to work alongside the duo, but decided against it.

“London Irish will always have a special place in my heart,” said Kennedy.

“This was not a decision that I made lightly as there are a great bunch of coaches and players at Hazelwood. I’m proud I helped change the Academy from a two star to a five star RFU rating and to have gone undefeated for a season to win the Under-18 Premiership Rugby title. I’m proud we won the Championship at the first time of asking, only losing one game all season, and I’m very proud of the players and how they fought to the end of every game.

“I’d also like to thank the fans for their outstanding support over the years, and I hope that they will be enjoying success in the future.”

In a statement the club said “the London Irish management has reluctantly accepted his resignation”.

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Kennedy took up the role of director of rugby in the summer of 2016, having re-joined the club as academy director in 2014 after short spells at Harlequins and Toulon.

He led them back up to the Premiership after just one season in the Championship, but the team have struggled on their return to the top flight. Relegation is a near certainty with the club 12 points adrift at the bottom of the table, having only won twice all season.

Speaking to RugbyPass in January, Kennedy admitted he feared the sack.

“It is a results business and look I am completely responsible – if we are not getting the results it is my fault.  So yeah that is up to the board to decide, but I will still keep working extremely hard and hopefully the results are going to come so it won’t come to that.”

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Nick Kennedy gives frank assessment of London Irish’s season

Kennedy made more than 200 appearances for London Irish’s first team in a decade-long playing career that also included seven England caps and an appearance in the 2009 Aviva Premiership final.

“Nick will always be a major figure in the London Irish history books,” said Mick Crossan, London Irish’s president and majority shareholder.

“He was an excellent player and we believed that he had a promising career in front of him as a coach, which we had hoped that he would fulfil under the guidance of Declan Kidney and Les Kiss. So, we’re disappointed that he has decided to move on.

“However, we have accepted his decision and wish him all the best for the future.”

 

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