Richard Cockerill has left Leicester Tigers after seven years in charge and multiple trophies. Here’s a look back on his time in charge.
January 2009: With Heyneke Meyer forced to leave the club after just six months in order to take care of his wife’s terminally ill parents, Cockerill takes over as acting head coach, assisted by Matt O’Connor and Paul Burke. He was confirmed as permanent head coach in April.
May 2009: Leicester are crowned Premiership champions for the second time in three years, defeating London Irish 10-9 at Twickenham as Jordan Crane’s try proved to be the key score. The Tigers had finished the regular season in first place.
The following week Leicester were defeated 19-16 by Leinster in the Heineken Cup final at Murrayfield, having led 13-9 at the break. 2009 remains the last time Leicester made a European Cup final.
November 2009: Cockerill is hit with a four-match ban and £2,000 fine for verbally abusing referee Tim Wigglesworth and his assistants Rob Denby and Robin Goodliffe during an LV= Cup match between Leicester and the Dragons.
May 2010: Leicester make it back-to-back titles thanks to a late converted try from Dan Hipkiss, with the crucial score ensuring a 33-27 win at Twickenham over Saracens.
July 2010: Cockerill is promoted by Leicester to director of rugby, with O’Connor becoming head coach, after Cockerill signs a new contract to stay at the club.
He gave me my shot and I enjoyed success under him. His commitment and passion for @LeicesterTigers was everything that the clubs about.
— Ben Youngs (@benyoungs09) 2 January 2017
May 2011: Leicester miss out on the chance to make it three Premiership titles in a row, as Saracens get revenge in the Premiership final by winning 22-18. Toby Flood scored all of the Tigers’ points through six penalties.
March 2012: Featuring a young George Ford at fly-half, Leicester defeat bitter rivals Northampton Saints to win the LV= Cup – their only trophy of the season after reaching the Premiership final but losing to Harlequins.
May 2013: Dylan Hartley’s red card just before half-time for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes sets Leicester up to win their tenth Premiership crown, and third under Cockerill. A healthy 37-17 win sees the departing Ford and Martin Castrogiovanni both move on with trophies to their name. The Premiership title was also Leicester’s fourth and final trophy won under Cockerill.
July 2013: Cockerill is handed a nine-match suspension by the RFU for an incident stemming from the Premiership final. Cockerill was found guilty of using obscene, inappropriate and/or unprofessional language and behaviour towards fourth official Stuart Terheege after reacting to a tackle on Toby Flood. His appeal was unsuccessful.
October 2013: At the start of a new season, but while still suspended, Cockerill signs a five-year contract extension to continue as director of rugby at Welford Road.
Very sad day today to see one of the greatest mentors in my rugby career leave @LeicesterTigers wishing Cockers the very best for the future
— Marcos Ayerza (@miayerza) 2 January 2017
May 2014: Having made the last nine straight Premiership finals Leicester miss out on the end of season trip to Twickenham, defeated in the semi-finals 21-20 thanks to a late try from Northampton Saints’ Tom Wood. Their East Midlands rivals went on to win the trophy in extra-time in the final against Saracens.
May 2015: Knocked out of the first Champions Cup in the group stages, with pool winners Toulon going on to the lift the title, Leicester are again eliminated from the Premiership play-offs at the semi-final stage in a 47-10 thrashing away to Bath.
May 2016: A bounce-back season of sorts, the first with Aaron Mauger at the club as head coach having joined from the Crusaders, sees Leicester reach the semi-finals of the Premiership and Champions Cup, only to be knocked out in Europe by Racing 92 and then heavily beaten by eventual winners Saracens.
December 2016: Reports in the UK press vary suggesting Cockerill is either set to be sacked or has only two games to save his job, with claims of a “toxic” coaching culture, after Leicester are humbled 38-0 away to Munster. The Tigers go on to win the rematch at Welford Road, seemingly alleviating the pressure.
January 2017: Cockerill is sacked by Leicester, ending the longest reign of any boss at the club spanning 276 matches. In Cockerill’s statement he said: “I arrived back at the club in 2004 as an academy coach and leave as DOR with a record that speaks for itself and stands up against any in club rugby in the world.”
Cockerill’s record at Leicester
Winning percentage: 64.49
Honours: 2008–09 Premiership, 2009–10 Premiership, 2011-12 Anglo-Welsh Cup, 2012–13 Premiership
Also I’m very sad for Richard Cockerill. A great man, passionate coach and of huge help to me and my family. Thank you for everything.
— MTU (@Manutuilagi) 2 January 2017