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Rugby News

Club announcement: Leigh Jones

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Leicester Tigers can confirm that General Manager Leigh Jones will depart the club in the summer.

Jones joined Tigers in May 2021 from the Hong Kong Rugby Union, where served as National Coach Development Manager and Head Coach before leading the defence and breakdown for the Japanese national team at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He then returned to Hong Kong as Head of High Performance before taking on the role as General Manager of Rugby.

Prior to his tenure at HKRU, he held senior coaching roles with Ebbw Vale, Newport, Newport Gwent Dragons and the Welsh Rugby Union senior team, including leading the Wales ‘A’ programme under Sir Graham Henry.

Jones was the first to hold the role of General Manager at the club, which included responsibility for the off-field performance of Leicester Tigers, including overseeing the Oval Park facility, operational processes and procedures at the training ground, and driving the cultural and performance standards at all levels of the rugby programme, including the academy and senior squads.

In his time at the club, the senior squad were crowned Gallagher Premiership Champions at the conclusion of his first season, reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup in successive campaigns and fell one game short of back-to-back Premiership Finals.

Meanwhile, the academy programme completed a third-place finish in this season’s Premiership Under-18 League.

Speaking about his time at the club, Jones said: “It has been an interesting and enjoyable two years, transitioning back to the UK from Hong Kong into, what was, a new format for me personally in a competition of the Premiership’s standing.”

“It’s been a pleasure and privilege to work with some great staff, players and coaches at Leicester Tigers, helping to establish what I now believe to be a truly integrated and harmonious training platform from which players and coaches can maximise potential.

“While the work that you do goes largely un-noticed, it proves very important in the daily running of the rugby platform in respect of both the ‘here and now’ and also having a keen eye on the future; introducing and maximising systems, structures and player pathways to safeguard the future of the club.

“It has been a great thrill to work closely with the coaching team, many of whom are world class operators, to advise, mentor and simply offer an opinion, when needed.

Speaking further on his tenure, he added: “The results over the two year period have been pleasing; the pinnacle, winning the Gallagher Premiership in 2022, while also reaching the knockout stages of the Premiership and European Champions Cup in two successive seasons.”

“It has also been particularly pleasing this season in how everyone pulled together following the departure of Steve [Borthwick] and Kevin [Sinfield]. Following the initial disruption, Richard Wigglesworth, Aled Walters and the coaching team have done a magnificent job in keeping things on course during what could have been a particularly hazardous period.”

“It has also been great to see a significant international representation through the age-grades, supplying seven players to England U20s for the recent Six Nations and forthcoming U20s World Championship. Because of the attention given to this specific group of players, I believe they are are now first team ready, and will be a great addition to the first team squad next year.

“I am confident Leicester Tigers is in a positive position moving into the future, having assembled a strong squad to compete in both the Premiership and European competitions, with an exciting squad including a host of world-class players and youngsters who are well prepared to make the step up.”

Looking ahead to his own future, Jones said: “I am going to take some time out for my family, including returning home to Wales, after which I will look for the next challenge to throw myself into and contribute to an organisation in the way I have enjoyed so much during this time at Leicester Tigers.”

Outgoing Leicester Tigers Interim Head Coach Richard Wigglesworth added: “Leigh has been a great source of knowledge and experience, as well as a great mentor and friend to me in my time at the club.”

“Firstly, while I was balancing playing and coaching and then, when I moved into the Head Coach role, even more so as a brilliant advisor during my first time in a role of this magnitude.

“The work of a General Manager is largely behind the scenes, ensuring that coaches and players are capable of doing the very best they can because of the thankless work that goes into all that is required and Leigh has done that, every day, of which cannot be spoken highly enough of by myself.

“I am so grateful for all that he has done for me, this club and wish him all the very best in whatever comes next, whoever is the lucky organisation to have him.”

Leicester Tigers CEO Andrea Pinchen added: “Leigh joined Leicester Tigers at a critical point in this club’s history and has, during the past two seasons, provided wonderful experience and guidance to what were a young coaching group and evolving playing squad.”

“In addition to his day-to-day roles, he has played a pivotal role in helping establish strong foundations for which Leicester Tigers can move forward into the future, confident of being competitive through his and his staff’s excellent work.

“I thank him for everything he has done and, on behalf of all at the club and wider Tigers Family, wish him the very best for what is to come.”