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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 18:11 GMT
Richards leaves Leicester
Dean Richards
Richards led Leicester to unprecedented success
Leicester Tigers have parted company with director of rugby Dean Richards.

Richards led the Tigers to four league titles and two Heineken Cup triumphs during a sparkling seven-year reign at Welford Road.

But Leicester crashed out of Europe in the group stages this season and lie only ninth in the Premiership.

Leicester chairman Peter Tom said: "The board felt this decline could only be checked by significant changes. Dean did not find these changes acceptable."

Tom added: "I would like to place on record the gratitude of the board of directors and supporters for Dean's contribution to Leicester Tigers, both as a player and as director of rugby."

Richards, who enjoyed a distinguished playing career for Leicester and England, said: "I am disappointed to be leaving Leicester Tigers after 23 years at a wonderful club.

"However, I would like to wish the players and coaches the very best for the future and thank the fans for the tremendous support they have given me both as a player and as a coach."

Chief executive Peter Wheeler will take charge of team affairs at Welford Road in the short term.

He will be assisted by coach John Wells and players Martin Johnson and Neil Back.

Former England skipper Johnson has been linked with the role of player-coach at Welford Road.

Sale coach Jim Mallinder has also been touted as a possible replacement for Richards.

Tom said: "We will be advertising worldwide for a replacement but do not intend to rush into any appointment."

Under Richards, Leicester were crowned European champions in 2001 through a thrilling victory over Stade Francais in Paris, then retained their title by defeating Munster at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

But they have won just five of their 14 matches this season and with eight games left, are 12 points adrift of the the top six - a probable Heineken Cup qualification cut-off point.

Chief executive Peter Wheeler
"It is a sad day for the club"

Leicester 13-26 Stade Francais
30 Jan 04  |  European Club

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