David Humphreys has today confirmed that he is to leave Ulster Rugby to become director of rugby for English Premiership side Gloucester.
The move ends David Humphreys' 22-year association with his home province. He made 162 appearances for Ulster as a player and won the European Cup, Celtic Cup and the Celtic League.
He retired from playing in 2008 and took up a role as Ulster's operations director before becoming their director of rugby four years ago.
Commenting on the announcement, Humphreys said: "This was a really difficult decision for me personally but having received a direct approach from Gloucester, I have now chosen to accept an offer to become their director of rugby. It is, I believe, the right move for me at this stage of my career.
"I would like to thank the supporters and all those involved in Ulster Rugby over more than two decades who have lent me support, encouragement and wisdom.
"There is no doubt that the province will continue to move forward. It has a fantastic stadium, the best supporters and a wealth of great talent coming through. Ulster Rugby will be a force within rugby for many years to come."
Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan added: "I would like to wish David every success with Gloucester and to thank him for the outstanding contribution that he has made to Ulster Rugby.
"As director of rugby, David has helped to grow the game at all levels - there are more people playing rugby in the province than ever before, we have successful age-grade sides, we have a strong Academy and we now have a senior squad that can beat the best in Europe.
"We are disappointed with the decision but respect David's decision to leave Ulster. We know we already have the structures in place to ensure we have success in the long-term.
"Ulster Rugby will now begin the process of recruiting a new director of rugby and we look forward to building on the progress that the province has made in recent years."
Munster head coach Anthony Foley will be eager to get a number of his walking wounded back to full fitness for his side's return to GUINNESS PRO12 action against Cardiff Blues in Cork on Saturday, February 14.
Belfast has been chosen as the host city for the 2015 GUINNESS PRO12 final on Saturday, May 30 at 6.30pm. The league decider will be played at Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby. Tickets will go on public sale on Tuesday, February 3 through Ticketmaster and Ulster Rugby.
Speaking to Rob Murphy after Connacht's PRO12 victory over the Dragons, head coach Pat Lam said: "There are some things to learn from, but we're pleased to start with a win. When you consider nine in that starting group are under 23, it's good to see some of those talented guys get a chance - particularly the new ones."
Irish Rugby TV ventured west to cover the launch of Mazda's continued support of Connacht Rugby. We hear from new arrival and Mazda Ambassador Mils Muliaina, Kieran Marmion, Jake Heenan and former captain Gavin Duffy.
Looking forward to the new GUINNESS PRO12 season, Connacht captain John Muldoon said: "We've a lot of younger guys who have big years ahead of them and a few big name signings who will hopefully be able to fit into the system and work hard among the ethos of Connacht Rugby."
Irish Rugby TV was at the launch of the GUINNESS PRO12 and we caught up with Jamie Heaslip, Pat Lam, John Muldoon, Matt O'Connor and Rory Sheridan of Diageo as the new sponsor gets ready to kick off an exciting season.
Speaking during Connacht's training trip to Ballinrobe RFC, captain John Muldoon said: "It's great to see the jerseys and the people coming out to support us today. Long may it continue because we're not a Galway team, we're a Connacht team and that's what we want to push and that's why we come out on these days out."
Young hooker David Heffernan, who extended his current deal with Connacht in April, enjoyed a trip back to his native Mayo as Pat Lam's men held an open training session at Ballinrobe RFC earlier this week.
Rob Murphy caught up with Connacht head coach Pat Lam after their bonus point win at home to Benetton Treviso. The westerners have been in resurgent form of late, picking up three straight league victories and 14 points from a possible 15.