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Tana Umaga named Blues coach

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/06/2015

Tana Umaga © AP Tana Umaga

Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga has replaced Sir John Kirwan as head coach of the Blues.

Umaga has signed a three-year deal with the struggling Super Rugby franchise following the resignation last week of Kirwan, who guided the Blues to 16 wins from 48 games in a three-year term.

It was widely expected that 42-year-old Umaga would take the reins, having coached previously at French club Toulon and enjoying success in three seasons as head coach of NPC union Counties Manukau.


Playing career

All Blacks 1997-2005: 79 matches, 74 Tests (21 as captain). 37 tries (36 in Tests)

Hurricanes 1996-2007: 122 matches

Chiefs 2011: 7 matches

Wellington 1994-2007: 100 matches

Coaching career

Toulon (player/coach): 2008-09

Counties Manukau: 2010-11 (assistant), 2012-14 (head coach)

NZ U20s: 2015 (assistant)

History of Blues coaches

1996-98 - Graham Henry (32 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses) 2 titles

1999 - Jed Rowlands (4, 1, 6)

2000 - Gordon Hunter (6, 0, 5)

2001 - Frank Oliver (4, 0, 7)

2002-05 - Peter Sloane (30, 1, 15) 1 title

2006-08 - David Nucifora (23, 0, 17)

2009-12 - Pat Lam (26, 1, 32)

2013-15 - John Kirwan (16, 0, 32)

2016 - Tana Umaga

Tensions remain among Blues board

The Blues board was unanimous in endorsing the appointment of former All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga as coach, but chairman Tony Carter says personal tensions remain between directors.

The board had been split on whether Umaga's predecessor, Sir John Kirwan, should be retained after his failure to take the Blues to the play-offs in his three years in charge.

After earlier seeking to extend his tenure, Kirwan resigned last week following the Blues' worst season in the competition.

Carter says the board was united in its backing of Umaga, who has a three-year contract, but some friction remained.

"There are still a few personal tensions amongst the board - I would be first to admit that - and we will work through that over the next few months," he said.

"But I'm much more positive today than I was yesterday before the board unanimously supported the appointment of Tana."

In September 2013, Bolton Equities and Rugby Holdings, the latter representing the Auckland, North Harbour and Northland unions, took over the Blues.

Under the Blues' constitution, governance is split 50-50 and decisions have to be reached by consensus, not a majority.

Asked if the constitution needed tweaking to avoid a repeat of the impasse over Kirwan, Carter said that was a matter for the shareholders rather than the board.

"But my personal view is that the constitution does need amendment to make decision-making more easy going forward."

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