Tana Umaga calls time on Blues coaching career
Blues defence coach Tana Umaga has parted ways with the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman champions following the successful 2021 season.
Umaga will take a break from professional rugby to focus on his new family venture, a Maori and Pasifika inspired supplements business.
Umaga, who has played an integral role in the Blues coaching staff since 2016, said it had been a difficult decision to leave the club after initially signing a multi-year contract extension with New Zealand Rugby (NZR).
“I’ve absolutely loved my time at the Blues, but ultimately my family comes first and, with that in mind, I have decided to put my time and energy into growing our business alongside my wife Rochelle,” Umaga said.
“We are excited about what the future holds for our business, and although I’m stepping away from rugby, I know the door isn’t closed and who knows what the future holds. I’m grateful to the Blues and NZR for their understanding and support as I embark on a new chapter.”
Umaga, a 74-Test All Black, joined the Blues in 2016 as head coach before transitioning into the defence coach role in 2018 under current head honcho, and former All Blacks teammate Leon MacDonald.
This year the Blues recorded the highest tackle accuracy and conceded the least tries, which helped lay the foundations for the club’s first major title in 18 years as they won the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title.
Blues CEO Andrew Hore said the club will sorely miss Umaga’s presence at the club but were fully supportive of his decision.
“Tana has been a massive part of the Blues for the past six years. His influence on the club and the team has been significant. He has excelled in his current role of defence and has been an integral part in developing and driving the culture within the team and our club.
“We had hoped he would continue in the role for the next couple of seasons, but we respect his decision and why he has a desire to try something new, and we wish him, and Rochelle, all the best. Our door will always be open for Tana and his family.”
"If it’s true that supporters aren’t so attached to this All Blacks team, then that starts with Foster."
– Hamish Bidwell on why New Zealand needs to have a connection with the All Blacks https://t.co/SYhfp7LujX
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 16, 2021
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said that while Umaga has been outstanding as a defensive coach, his influence within the overall team and the club has proven pivotal.
“Tana has developed into a mentor for so many of our players and his leadership into the development of our identity and our culture has been inspirational. His influence throughout our club, on and off the grass, has been crucial to where we are today and I am sure we would love to see him return in the future.
“No doubt we will be reminding our 2022 group of the high standards that Tana has set for them as players and as people.”
NZR General Manager Professional Rugby & High-Performance Chris Lendrum said Umaga’s contribution had been considerable.
“Tana is one of the greats of the game in New Zealand. He has huge mana and respect in our rugby community, and he has taken the leadership and knowledge he showed as a player and enhanced it further in his coaching with Counties Manukau in the NPC, the Blues in Super Rugby and for our New Zealand Under 20s and M?ori All Blacks.
“We wish him and his aiga all the best for the next phase of their lives. I’m sure he won’t be lost to rugby and we hope to see him back.”
– with Blues Rugby
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