All Blacks legend and Blues defence coach Tana Umaga will be taking a break from professional rugby coaching to focus on his new family business, it was announced today.
After having initially signed a multi-year contract with New Zealand Rugby (NZR), Umaga said it’s been a difficult decision to leave.
He’s been part of the Blues coaching staff in one capacity or another since 2016.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time at the Blues, but ultimately my family comes first and, with that in mind, I have decided to put my time and energy into growing our business alongside my wife Rochelle,” Umaga said.
“We are excited about what the future holds for our business, and although I’m stepping away from rugby, I know the door isn’t closed and who knows what the future holds. I’m grateful to the Blues and NZR for their understanding and support as I embark on a new chapter.”
Tana and Rochelle established a supplements business earlier this year.
Blues CEO Andrew Hore said the club will sorely miss Umaga’s presence at the club but were fully supportive of his decision.
“Tana has been a massive part of the Blues for the past six years. His influence on the club and the team has been significant. He has excelled in his current role of defence and has been an integral part in developing and driving the culture within the team and our club.
“We had hoped he would continue in the role for the next couple of seasons, but we respect his decision and why he has a desire to try something new, and we wish him, and Rochelle, all the best. Our door will always be open for Tana and his family.”
Umaga, a 74-Test All Black, joined the Blues in 2016 as Head Coach before transitioning into the Defence Coach role in 2018 under current Head Coach, and former teammate Leon MacDonald.
This year the Blues recorded the highest tackle accuracy and conceded the least tries, which helped lay the foundations for the club’s first major title in 18 years as they won the Sky Super rugby Trans-Tasman title.
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said that while Umaga has been outstanding as a defensive coach, his influence within the overall team and the club has proven pivotal.
“Tana has developed into a mentor for so many of our players and his leadership into the development of our identity and our culture has been inspirational. His influence throughout our club, on and off the grass, has been crucial to where we are today and I am sure we would love to see him return in the future.
“No doubt we will be reminding our 2022 group of the high standards that Tana has set for them as players and as people.”