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Earl Va'a steps down as Wellington Lions head coach

18 November 2016

FRIDAY 18 November 2016

Earl Va’a has decided to step aside as Wellington Lions head coach.

After two years at the helm of the Lions Mitre 10 Cup squad, Va’a announced today he will not be seeking reappointment for 2017.

“It was not an easy decision, but after going through the campaign review process and talking to those close to me, I have decided that it is in the best interests of Wellington Rugby to allow somebody else to take the Lions forward.

“I’m incredibly proud to have had the privilege of leading this team over the past two years and wish the group nothing but success.

“I believe Wellington Rugby has unearthed a rare bubble of talent and I am proud of the fact we have blooded 27 players during the past two seasons, contributed ten players to the New Zealand Under 20s and had a number of players promoted to the Super Rugby environment.

“I know this group will be successful in the Lions jersey in coming seasons, however, ultimately we did not reach our goal of promotion to the Premiership and for that I accept responsibility as the head coach.”

Va’a, who is also Wellington Rugby’s high performance manager, said he remained passionate about the province and the Lions and had a strong desire to remain involved in the union.

“I am determined to continue my coaching career and take the lessons of the past two seasons into the next chapter of my development in whatever capacity that may be.”

Va’a’s decision comes in the midst of the Wellington Rugby board’s review of a 2016 Mitre 10 Cup season that faltered in the Championship semi-finals.

Chairman Iain Potter said the board respected Va’a’s decision and would be advertising immediately for a new Wellington Lions head coach for 2017.

“We know Earl shared the board’s disappointment at the final result this year and ultimately we all had the same goal of being promoted to the Premiership.

“Earl has grown a lot over the past two seasons as head coach and the on field results do not reflect all the hard work he has put in.

"We will discuss the best way for him to continue to develop within Wellington rugby, but our major focus now must be to find a new Lions head coach and we are confident there are quality people out there who will put their hand up for the role.”

Wellington Rugby would be looking to appoint the new Lions head coach before the New Year, Potter said.