Richard Cockerill has left his post of Director of Rugby at Leicester Tigers, the club has confirmed. Days after assuring the media he was the right man to lead the club, the board has chosen to go in a different direction,

Cockerill's sacking comes with Leicester sitting five points off the top four and a semi-final place, with 10 games left of the regular season. Leicester have confirmed that Head Coach Aaron Mauger will take charge until May.

This season has been somewhat of a struggle for English rugby's most successful club, both domestically and in European competition.

Following defeat at home to Saracens in their first match of 2017, Tigers are now in danger of failing to finish in the top four of the league - something that never happened with Cockerill in charge.

Cockerill as a Tiger

The 10 times English champions appointed Cockerill on a permanent basis as head coach in April 2009 - winning three domestic titles under his stewardship - but the club felt it was time to move on amidst rumours of player revolt and disagreements between Cockerill and his coaching staff, including Mauger and assistant coach Geordan Murphy.

As well as serving as Tigers head coach, Cockerill was a coach in the Academy in the early 2000's once his playing career ended. He had also played for the Tigers during the 1990's and remained until 2002 as they won back to back European competitions.

The former England international is highly respected within the game but Leicester's failure to finish in the top two of the Premiership in the last few years of Cockerill's tenure mean this decision will not surprise many within the club. With no European final appearance since 2009, Leicester have fallen behind Saracens and Wasps in terms of standing in English rugby and this is unacceptable for a club which provided 10 players for an England international match against Canada in 1999.

Who will take over?

Speculation is rife concerning Cockerill's successor as Leicester have indicated that Mauger will not be offered the position permanently, with former Tigers full back Murphy being tipped in some quarters to take the reins.

Leicester have never finished below 6th in the Premiership and although their home form suggests they should remain in the top half for the rest of the campaign, their indifferent results have left them just four points above seventh-plaved Harlequins.

Mauger and Murphy certainly have their work cut out to stabilise and unite a disjointed Tigers unit who have been accused of getting Cockerill the sack after a player revolt, which in turn caused rifts between the playing staff themselves.