Cardiff Blues have been rocked by the news that Danny Wilson will leave his position as the region’s Head Coach next summer.
Wilson will honour the three-year contract he signed when he took the job in the summer of 2015, but will not take up the final year extension he agreed at the end of his first season in charge.
The 40-year-old has reportedly left after becoming unhappy over playing budgets, with the business openly admitting they are having to tighten their belts financially after making a £1.4m loss in the latest set of accounts.
It will be a devastating blow to the side’s fans who were just starting to feel some positivity about the season after Saturday’s last-gasp win over Connacht ended a run of three straight defeats to start the campaign.
There will be extra concern over who would want to take over the top job at the Arms Park, given the serious restrictions in the budgets and a reported 20 players being out of contract next summer.
An official statement from the club said, “Cardiff Blues can confirm Danny Wilson has decided to leave his position of head coach at the end of the season.
The search for a suitable successor will begin with immediate effect and further rugby appointments will be made.
Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland said: “It is disappointing that Danny has decided not to take up the offer of a new contract and will not be part of our strategy moving forward.
“We will begin the process of finding a successor immediately and we will consult key individuals to ensure we make the right appointment for Cardiff Blues.”
Wilson admits it was a tough decision to make but insists he remains committed to the cause for the remainder of his time at Cardiff Blues.
He said: “This was obviously a very difficult decision to make and I am very grateful to Cardiff Blues for the opportunities they have given to me.
“I will be fully committed to Cardiff Blues for the remainder of my time here and am now solely focused on this weekend’s match with Munster.”
Weston-Super-Mare born Wilson arrived at the Cardiff Blues ahead of the 2015/16 season, having been forced to retire at a young age from playing and subsequently studied coaching at Cardiff Met.
He coached Cardiff RFC and London Welsh at semi-professional level, before being appointed Dragons forwards coach in 2010, coupling that with being Wales U20s head coach.
Two years at Rodney Parade was followed by two years in Llanelli, where he was credited with revolutionising the Scarlets set piece.
From there it was across the border to Bristol for a season in the English Championship, before Cardiff Blues came calling for his first opportunity to be the main man in the professional game.
Wilson has been in charge of Cardiff for 72 games, victorious on 35 occasions, with a win ratio of 49%. His two seasons have seen two seventh place finishes, while 28 players have left during his tenure as the fourth head coach since Dai Young revolutionised the squad.
Reports on the weekend suggested Wilson could return to his forwards roots as an assistant at Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership, although his next career step is yet to be confirmed.
Cardiff Blues travel to Thomond Park on Saturday for a Pro14 fixture against Munster, where all eyes will be on how the players react after being informed of the news.