Blues give Umaga more back-up

    2018-07-16 10:23

    Wellington - The Blues moved to provide under-fire head coach Tana Umaga with more support on Monday after another disappointing Super Rugby season, appointing the experienced Tom Coventry as his assistant.

    The Blues ended the regular season at the bottom of the New Zealand conference for the third-straight year and have not made the playoffs since 2011.

    Team officials granted Umaga a one-year contract extension in May but made it clear they expected improved results on the 2018 campaign, which yielded just four wins.

    Coventry is a former Chiefs assistant coach who helped the Hamilton-based team win back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

    He will concentrate on working with the forwards while fellow assistant Leon MacDonald hones the Blues' attack.

    "I am confident with a lot of hard work that we can turn around the fortunes at the Blues and I look forward to being part of that," Coventry said.

    He has been head coach at North Harbour for two years, guiding them to the semi-final of the domestic Mitre 10 Cup last year.

    After leaving the Chiefs, Coventry has an unsuccessful one-season stint in charge at London Irish which ended with the team being relegated from the English Premiership.

    The Blues, representing New Zealand's biggest city, were once a rugby powerhouse but claimed the last of their three titles in 2003.

    Despite having the largest talent pool in New Zealand, they have developed a reputation for allowing promising youngsters to slip through their fingers and failing to make the most of those who do stay.

    "Clearly there are unique challenges and responsibilities in this region but I believe the club has the foundations in place as well as a first-class training facility," Coventry said.

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