The pressure appears to be mounting on Richard Cockerill following the Leicester Tigers’ 38-0 drumming at the hands of Munster last weekend.
Indeed, citing sources within the club, the Daily Mail even claimed that Saturday’s return fixture could very well decide the future of the Tigers’ Director of Rugby.
Although Cockerill has found himself in this position before, the manner of Leicester’s capitulation has caused a great deal of concern. The Tigers showed little in attack and were cut to pieces by a Munster team that enjoyed a continual stream of quick ball.
Although Cockerill can rightly point to the injuries suffered by Manu Tuilagi and Matt Toomua this season, his side’s defensive frailties has been exposed time and again.
The sacking of defence coach, Scott Hansen, has done little to improve the situation, with opponents seemingly able to generate quick ball at will against the Tigers.
Leicester haven’t learned from their mistakes either. The Glasgow Warriors cut holes right through the heart of their defence, while CJ Stander was allowed the space to expose similar gaps either side of the ruck last weekend. Defending from inside out is real basic stuff.
Such errors have left Cockerill’s future hanging by a thread, and the Leicester hierarchy might feel the need to move so as to give any new director the chance to secure a play-off spot at the end of the season.
The Tigers might also have to face the very real prospect of having to compete with the Northampton Saints should they chose to part company with Jim Mallinder.
[tie_slide]1. Aaron Mauger
Already head coach at the Tigers, promoting Aaron Mauger would be the most simple and quickest way of replacing Cockerill.
Although the Mail did claim that the coaching culture had turned “toxic”, handing Mauger the role until the end of the season would give him the opportunity to bring in some of his own staff and improve the atmosphere.
A decision could then be made on whether or not to employ the kiwi on a permanent basis thereafter.
[tie_slide]2. Heyneke Meyer
Unemployed since leading South Africa to a third placed finish at the 2015 World Cup, Heyneke Meyer has been linked with a number of positions in recent months.
At one stage the South African seemed best placed to take over from Andy Robinson at Bristol, but they opted for Pat Lam instead.
Meyer was previously employed by the Tigers, but was forced to step down as head coach soon after his appointment in 2008 due to family reasons.
Therefore a sense of unfinished business might be enough to tempt Meyer back to Welford Road.
[tie_slide]3. Stuart Lancaster
To his credit, Stuart Lancaster has re-established himself as a top coach since joining Leinster at the beginning of the season.
The former England coach seemed to be in the running for any and every job in both hemispheres before the Irish side offered him the role as senior coach.
Although Lancaster would not be available until the end of the season, his philosophy would suit a club with a “toxic” coaching culture.
[tie_slide]4. Fabien Galthié
Highly thought of in France after successful stints in charge of Stade Francais and Montpellier.
After leading Stade to Top 14 and a Heineken Cup final appearances, Fabien Galthié moved to Montpellier in 2010, claiming a league title in his first season in charge.
However the former scrum half hasn’t coached since 2014 due to a court case involving Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad over compensation owed to Galthié.
As the case has now been settled, Galthié is in a position to seek employment elsewhere, and the Tigers might be a good places to start.
They could face competition from a series of French clubs who have been linked with 2002 World Player of The Year.
[tie_slide]5. Jake White
Having also reportedly fallen out with Altrad, Jake White is due to leave Montpellier at the end of the current campaign.
The World Cup winning coach will not only leave behind him a little South African enclave in Montpellier, but a great deal of success.
White’s abrasive game plan would also suit the Tigers’ traditional style of play, and his experienced hands could prove key in Leicester closing the gap on Saracens.
However, the Tigers would have to move fast as White might yet replace Allister Coetzee as coach of the Springboks.
This week on the Oval Office Podcast, we speak with Section Paloise number eight Paddy Butler, and hold an in depth conversation with Geraint Powell about what the future holds for regional rugby in Wales.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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