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Former All Black Simon Mannix has fallen on his own sword at struggling Top 14 outfit

By James Harrington
Simon Mannix has called it quits at Pau after nearly five years (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Former All Black Simon Mannix has quit as sporting director of French Top 14 side Pau. The players were informed that Mannix had handed in his resignation on Tuesday morning. His last match in charge was Saturday’s 71-21 hammering at La Rochelle.


Mannix – who had been in charge at the club since joining from Munster in 2014, guiding them to the ProD2 championship in his first season in charge – had one year left on his current contract,

With four rounds of the regular Top 14 season to go, Pau currently languish in 11th place, just six points out of relegation danger following seven wins and 15 defeats.

“I had never seen such a score, as a player or coach,” Mannix admitted after Saturday’s defeat. “It’s so hard. I have no explanation. It is a feeling of total shame. It’s really hard, but together, we’re going get out of this crap.”

In a club statement on Tuesday morning following urgent meetings that led to his resignation, Mannix said: “In view of the latest performances, it is better for the club to consider a change that could lead to positive results, it is with this in mind that I have decided to leave my position as sports director.

“As I leave the team management today, I can see the tremendous progress this club has made over the past five years. My team and I had the mission to bring Pau back into the French rugby elite after a nine-year absence in Top 14. This challenge was met in the first season, 2014/15, during which we proved that we were competitive.


“During these five years, I have dedicated my life to the club and I am humbly grateful to all my team for their work, professionalism and confidence in the project we started five years ago.

“The president of the club, Bernard Pontneau, has been an immense mentor to me during these years… and I would like to thank him infinitely for having given me all his confidence and this opportunity to make all these positive changes in recent years.

“The same is true for our main sponsor, Total, it has been very rewarding to have received such professional support and positive influence.


“I wish Bernard, the staff and all the players of Pau all the success they deserve for the future and I thank them for having accompanied me in this adventure at the highest level of French rugby.

“The Top 14 is one of the best championships in the world and I am proud to have been able to contribute to the training of so many French rugby players who I am sure will play an important role in the national team.”

Before taking charge at Pau, then a ProD2 side, in 2014, Mannix had been backs coach at Munster from 2012, and had helped guide Racing 92 (then Racing Metro) back to the top flight in 2009 during a five-year stint as backs coach at the club between 2006 and 2001.

Pau club president Pontneau added: “Simon Mannix’s decision is marked by courage and exemplary dignity. This is a painful sequence for the club, which has lost a great technician with a rare and valuable expertise in French rugby.”

Former Brive coach Nicolas Godignon, who joined the club following Carl Hayman’s departure earlier this season, will take charge for the final four matches. He will be supported by defence coach Fred Manca, and defence coach Conrad Smith.

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