Rugby: Mullins four seasons as North Otago coach over

Mike Mullins
Mike Mullins
Mike Mullins has been dumped as North Otago coach, and Barry Matthews floated as a possible replacement.

North Otago Rugby Football Union chief executive Colin Jackson said yesterday a full review had been carried out by the union and the decision had been made by the union's board to appoint a new coach.

When asked if Mullins wanted to continue, Jackson repeated the union had carried out the review and decided it was time for a new coach.

Mullins could not be contacted yesterday but had indicated last year he was keen to continue as North Otago coach after four years in the role.

Jackson did confirm Mullins would continue to work for the union, setting up a rugby academy and maintaining the schools programme in North Otago, which had resulted in player numbers growing in the junior ranks.

Mullins would also help the new coach.

But who that new coach will be has yet to be discussed by the union.

Jackson said the union had several people in mind but it would not be rushed into naming a coach, as there was plenty of time before the season started.

It had not yet decided whether to advertise the position.

Jackson confirmed Highlanders assistant coach Barry Matthews could be a candidate but he was just one person in the frame.

Matthews had helped out with North Otago for periods last year and has also assisted Glenn Moore from 2002 to 2005.

Matthews was appointed as a Highlanders assistant coach late last year and was working on defence and individual skills with Highlanders players.

Matthews could not be contacted yesterday.

Jackson paid tribute to the good work done by Mullins over the past four years, during which time North Otago had always been in the picture.

Mullins, a former Irish international, also took to the field for North Otago.

He named himself in the side as late as last year, to help give his side some experience in the backline.

Over his four-year tenure, North Otago made two semifinals in the Meads Cup, won the Meads Cup in 2007 and was Lochore Cup champion last year.

Jackson said he was going overseas today and would be in contact with possible candidates.

He said he could not comment on how Mullins took the news that he would not be coaching again.

North Otago failed to make the top section of the Heartland Championship last season but did well enough to come through and win the second-tier Lochore Cup.

Jackson confirmed North Otago clubs would not play against any other teams in a club competition this year.

Last year, North Otago sides played Dunedin premier 2 club sides early in the season before contesting the Citizens Shield.

But Jackson said the combined competition would not happen this year, and North Otago clubs would play among themselves.

Many North Otago club sides had run up big scores against the Dunedin club sides which struggled physically against the bigger North Otago teams.

Previously, North Otago had a combined competition with South Canterbury clubs.


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