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Ulster Rugby head coach Jono Gibbes to leave at end of season

Ulster supremo to return to New Zealand

Head coach Jono Gibbes has announced he will leave Ulster Rugby at the end of the season to return to New Zealand.

He has been in the post since February 2017.

The former All-Black has recently been linked with a coaching role in the Australia set-up.

Although Gibbes admitted leaving would be a difficult, he said he wanted to be closer to his family.

"Being a long way from home for the last 10 years has made me prioritise things above my career and so I'll be returning at the end of this season for family reasons," he said.

"The decision to leave here is a difficult one professionally, because I support the team and the staff, and I am excited for what the future holds for them. I believe there are enough passionate and professional people involved to build on the existing strong foundations of the club.

"The challenge ahead for Ulster demands the full attention of everyone involved; the management group, the team, the coaches and support staff. It is exciting and achievable. However, I cannot in good conscience provide my full attention for the journey ahead."

Gibbes thanked the fans for the support he has received throughout his tenure.

"My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Ulster to date and we're very grateful for the welcome and good spirit afforded to us," he said.

"I wish the team and the club all the very best for the future, and I am grateful for their understanding and support.”

Operations Director at Ulster Rugby Bryn Cunningham assured fans that the team would still have a strong coaching setup for the new season.

"While it's clearly disappointing to lose a coach of Jono's experience and quality, we fully understand and support his decision as family must always come first," he said.

"We'd like to thank Jono for his dedication thus far and I know that he will be fully committed to us until the end of the season.

"A review of the coaching structure is ongoing and the desired outcome of this will be to provide us with a strong, well-balanced coaching team and some long-term stability.”

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