Director of rugby Nat Saumi will leave Plymouth Albion at the end of the season
PLYMOUTH Albion are looking for their fourth director of rugby in the space of 18 months after it was announced today Nat Saumi will leave Brickfields at the end of this season.
Saumi's contract ends this summer and he has decided to return to Fiji after spending a decade at Albion, first as a player and then as a coach.
The announcement that the 42-year-old will leave Brickfields comes in the wake of Albion's 19-15 home defeat to second-from-bottom Jersey on Saturday.
That was Albion's ninth successive Championship reverse, breaking the previous club record for consecutive losses set in 1997/98.
Saumi unexpectedly found himself in the Albion hot seat at the start of January 2012 following the sudden departure of Peter Drewett, who walked out on the club for financial reasons just six weeks after taking over from long-serving Graham Dawe.
Albion, who sacked Dawe, in charge for 12-and-a-half years, to bring in Drewett, were in turmoil at the time Saumi was handed the reins to try and steer the financially stricken club to Championship safety.
Saumi did that and was rewarded with a new contract to become Albion's director of rugby/head coach for the 2012/13 campaign.
This season started impressively for him and the team. Albion won four out of their opening five matches, but they have since won just one league game.
Speculation about Saumi's future has been rife in recent weeks after club chairman Graham Stirling revealed in an interview to a national newspaper that the club had reviewed the Fijian's position following Albion's defeat to Moseley in January.
Albion, though, insist it is Saumi's decision to move on and have praised his dedication and loyalty to the club.
Debbie Fisher, the club's acting CEO, said in a statement: "The club are especially grateful to Nat for his loyal and dedicated support through what was an extremely challenging time for Albion.
"The board of directors would like to express their gratitude to Nat for all his years of service to Albion and wish him well for future challenges."
Saumi told Herald Sport he will be returning to Fiji to be with his family after nearly 17 years in England, playing for Albion, the Pirates and Redruth.
"It is time for me to move on and start a new chapter of my life," said Saumi.
"I have enjoyed my time here and I have learned a lot from doing this job.
"I have tried to help the club out and give them some stability. "
And Saumi insisted his job was not finished yet.
"We have still got four games left and the top eight is still our target," he added.
Albion have confirmed fitness and conditioning coach James Owen has signed a new contract with the club for the 2013/14 season, despite Saumi's departure.
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