Bristol Rugby part company with head coach Liam Middleton after back-to-back defeats
BRISTOL Rugby have parted company with head coach Liam Middleton, three days after their Championship play-off hopes suffered a huge blow with defeat at Moseley.
Director of rugby Andy Robinson, who joined the club on March 1, will take over all first-team affairs with immediate effect.
In a statement, Bristol said: "Following an initial review by director of rugby Andy Robinson, Bristol Rugby has today parted company with head coach Liam Middleton.
"The club believes that it is in the best interests of both parties to act sooner, rather than later.
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"Bristol Rugby would like to thank Liam for all the work he has done over the past four seasons, initially as academy manager and, more recently, as head coach.
"Andy Robinson will now take full control of all rugby matters as the Club strives to reach the RFU Championship semi-finals and progress further in the British and Irish Cup."
Middleton was appointed head coach at Bristol when Paul Hull left the club in 2011, and, against the odds, guided them to the top of the Championship in his first season in charge.
But, following their calamitous play-off semi-final defeat at Cornish Pirates last May, some questions were raised about his leadership of the team.
Bristol started the current campaign slowly, losing four of their first six games, before a 63-7 drubbing at Nottingham in November again saw questions asked about Middleton.
But they recovered superbly, winning 11 of their next 12 games in all competitions, including a stunning 18-6 victory at Bedford 16 days ago, which came the day after Robinson began work as director of rugby.
However, Bristol then saw their hopes of making the Championship play-offs suffer a massive blow as they lost successive games, against Nottingham and Moseley.
Friday’s defeat at Moseley was particularly galling, with Bristol leading 14-0 after 20 minutes before conceding 23 unanswered points to lose without so much as a bonus point.