Ulster Chief Executive Shane Logan admitted he was as surprised as everyone else that the club’s director of rugby, David Humphreys, is to leave the province to take up the same role with English Premiership side Gloucester.
Humphreys became Director of Rugby at Ravenhill in 2008 after a successful playing career with the province.
The 42-year-old made 162 apperances for his club and enjoyed success in wining the European Cup, Celtic Cup and Celtic League title.
On Saturday Ulster dropped a bombshell to fans when they confirmed the former Irish outhalf was to leave the club - something which had come as a surprise to everyone.
Logan said: “The speed at the end was certainly a surprise however we have been discussing David’s options and career plans ever since we started working together four and a half years ago.
“What we have set out to do is move Ulster forward on all fronts, that we win much more, that we are highly competitive at the top end, that we create a legacy, that we have players coming through, that we have world class facilities, coaches and strength and conditioning and medical and we’re quite away on to achieving that plan.
“What that means is like any organisation that is successful your people with be attractive to other organisations and it is the same in any business.”
“I certainly know David has been approached by others in the past so we knew this time would come a little bit more quickly than we thought.”
A search for a successor will begin but Logan feels it is there is no rush in making a decision.
“We’re going to recruit. We are going to take a look at our three to five year strategic plan and see where there are some gaps and do our plan better.
“We will go into the market as soon as we have a clear and well defined idea of what it will take to deliver the plan.
“The first thing to do is identify the qualities and functions that we want, the second thing is to conduct a search and the search will be what is best in the world.
“There is a lot of very good talent locally emerging quality of talent in coaching and leadership, there is very good talent in one or two players who have retired recently and there is good talent out there in the world so we will take our time and get the right fit and the best person.”
“The important thing is to do this right rather than quickly because we have a settled situation with a good production line of players of coaches we’re not in a desperate or close to it, we’ll take or time to make the right decision.”
Logan praised Humphreys contribution to Ulster.
“David has been here just over 20 years so he understands Ulster, he is committed to the cause, he has played top level football, his skills as a solicitor have been very helpful in contracts and negotiations, he brings a good appreciation of the game so all of those things have helped to move us forward.
“I’m grateful to the contribution David has made and we’ll we wish him all the best we will keep moving forward on our path which is one of improvement.
Logan believes it won’t be difficult to get a director of rugby to work with a coach in tandem.
“I think it’s the model that is used across many clubs. If you look at most of the Premiership clubs and the Super XV clubs they would have directors of rugby and a coaching structure under that.
“David has been a bit more back of house rather than front of house but that was because we needed to get some of the back of house foundations in place.
“We needed to get on production line of players we have 250 boys between 15-19 on really good quality programmes where as three or four years ago we had fewer than 30.
“The recruitment of players has been a part of it, the development of coaches and the development of a world class gym and other medical facilities.
“Now that we have those things moving and in many cases in place and we now need to look and see what we want over the next three to five years to keep us moving forward.”