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Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 12:05 UK

Head coach Steve Meehan to leave Bath at end of season

Steve Meehan
Meehan led the club to European Challenge Cup success in 2008

Head coach Steve Meehan is set to leave Bath at the end of the season after five seasons at The Rec.

The club are set to undergo a change of structure for the 2011/12 campaign with director of rugby Sir Ian McGeechan taking overall control of team affairs.

Current assistant coaches Martin Haag and Brad Davis will be retained.

Australian Meehan, who initially joined Bath from Stade Francais as a backs coach and took the helm in December 2006, is leaving by mutual consent.

He helped the club claim their first piece of silverware in 10 years when they won the European Challenge Cup in 2008 and has guided them to the Premiership play-offs in the each of the last three seasons.

Bath are currently seventh in the table, eight points off fourth spot and a fourth successive play-off semi-final with six games remaining in the regular season.

Meehan said: "Over the past five years we've developed our style of play, played some terrific rugby, won the respect of all the clubs in the Premiership and challenged some of the biggest teams in Europe.

BATH UNDER STEVE MEEHAN
2006/07
Premiership: Eighth
European Challenge Cup: Final
2007/08
Premiership: Third
European Challenge Cup: Winners
2008/09
Premiership: Fourth
Heineken Cup: Quarter-finals
2009/10
Premiership: Fourth
Heineken Cup: Pool stages
2010/11
Premiership: Currently seventh
Heineken Cup: Pool stages

"It's been a challenging yet enjoyable period, but the timing is right for me to move on at the end of this season and I wish the team every success in years to come.

"However, the key part of this season is now upon us and before I leave I will be doing everything I can to ensure we are in the play-offs and going for the title."

Meehan began his coaching career in Queensland before joining Stade Francais in the summer of 2002 where he was assistant coach to Nick Mallett and then Fabien Galthie, helping the club reach the Top 14 final three years running and winning in 2003 and 2004.

As well as making Bath one of the most attractive and successful teams in the Premiership, off the pitch he had to oversee the positive drugs test that resulted in prop Matt Stevens being banned for two years in 2009 and the end-of-season drugs scandal four months later that resulted in four players leaving the club.

Bath legend Jeremy Guscott told BBC Radio Bristol: "What Meehan's done at the club has been fantastic. He's had a number of top-four finishes which was brilliant compared to where they were before he joined.

"What he's done can't be underestimated. Yes, there's been a few blips along the way but that always happens.

"Meehan will be remembered for what he's achieved and what he's done with a squad that, if everyone's honest, isn't the best in the Premiership, so to finish in the top four and to win a cup is credit to him and the team he put together.

"His CV reads well and he can be proud of what he achieved in the time he did."

Speculation in France suggests he could be returning to the Parisian giants where they are also set to be making changes to their coaching team in the summer.

Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld told BBC Radio Bristol: "We've been through dramatic and significant change over the last year or so, we've had frank conversations and we want to move on.

"The way we've done it hasn't suited the way Steve wants to operate so we've agreed to go in different directions.

"Steve has been hugely successful and we've made massive progress under him, but we had slight disagreements as to how we take it forward from here. It's as simple as that."

McGeechan moved to the Rec at the start of the current season following Bruce Craig's arrival as chairman of the club.

The British and Irish Lions legend and former Scotland, Northampton and Wasps coach was initially installed as performance director but his title was changed to director of rugby in December.

Guscott added: "The writing was on the wall as soon as McGeechan's job title was changed.

"With him taking over the selection of the team that took a lot of what Meehan is all about away from him and from that moment on he was probably looking for another job.

"With the new owner and chief executive they must feel they need another coach to take them in the direction to not only get in to the top four but start winning Premierships and getting into the semi-finals and possibly winning Heineken Cups.

"A lot falls on McGeechan's shoulders what with everything going on at Bath. There's huge resources behind them, all the facilities are amazing and in a couple of years time I'd imagine they'd be the best in the country and compete with the rest of the world.

"Now the side has got to start performing and if they don't they'll be in for criticism and there will be pressure on McGeechan."



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