Jono Gibbes to leave Ulster at the end of the season

Former All Black is returning to his native New Zealand after a season with province

Ulster’s head coach Jono Gibbes will leave the province at the end of the season. Photo: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

Ulster’s head coach Jono Gibbes will leave the province at the end of the season. Photo: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

 

Jono Gibbes will leave Ulster at the end of this season to return to New Zealand only shortly after filling in for Les Kiss after his departure from the province.

Kiss left his position as director of rugby in January and Gibbes took over all coaching responsibility from the position of head coach.

The former Leinster assistant joined the province at the start of the season after leaving his post at Clermont last year.

However, he has now made the decision to move back to his native New Zealand at the end of the season. Ulster currently sit fourth in the Pro14 B Conference and were knocked out of the Champions Cup in January.

“Being a long way from home for the last ten years has made me prioritise things above my career and so I’ll be returning at the end of this season for family reasons,” Gibbes 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.

“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.

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

Bryan Cunningham, the operations director at the province, thanked Gibbes for his contribution over the 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.

“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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