Umaga poised for chop
26 Jan 2009
Tana Umaga looks likely to be replaced as coach of struggling French Top 14 side Toulon.
Reports from France suggest that former France skipper Philippe Saint-Andre will take over.
Toulon, who are captained by Springbok loose forward Joe van Niekerk, are currently second from bottom on the table, having won just three of their 15 matches to date.
Speaking to keo.co.za Van Niekerk maintained that the squad had faith in Umaga’s ability to steer them out of the relegation zone.
“Tana has struck me as a very astute coach in my time here,” Van Niekerk said. “It’s extremely difficult to get a team with so many different cultures to gel, but we can get there under Tana.”
Umaga’s fate will be announced at a press conference on Monday.
“It isn’t a problem because I have done all that was in my power. What I can’t control doesn’t stop me sleeping at night,” said Umaga. “If I must leave, I would be very disappointed. I wanted to succeed and I have done all that I could.
“But if I have to leave, I will do what all the supporters do – have a coffee and put myself in the stands. I mean that I will always support Toulon because I have spent two enjoyable years here,” he said.
Umaga is accustomed to speculation around his job. Between late 2007 and early 2008, Toulon, through president Mourad Boudjellal, made two approaches to former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer.
Meyer was keen to join after the first approach, but Umaga refused to share the control of the team. The second advance was to offer Meyer the job, which he declined. Umaga was retained, after which he turned around results and earned promotion to the Top 14.