Crowley stuns Rugby Canada by quitting as national coach

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LANGFORD, British Columbia (AP) — Kieran Crowley has resigned as Canada coach only days after agreeing to lead the team through qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Rugby Canada announced on Wednesday that Crowley's resignation was effective immediately.

He was going to coach in Europe, Rugby Canada said.

Crowley, a former All Black who won the inaugural World Cup in 1987, had been coach of Canada since 2008, taking the team to the World Cups in 2011, where it earned a win and a draw, and three months ago in England, where it didn't win a pool game.

Even after a World Cup review, Rugby Canada offered Crowley a contract extension through the 2019 qualifiers, which it said he accepted just recently. But then he told them this week he was resigning.

"We are disappointed to see Kieran leave, however we appreciate all he has given our program over the past eight years and wish both him and his family the very best as he takes on a new challenge in Europe," team manager Gareth Rees said.

The union said it had already started a global search for a new coach, but in the meantime, Francois Ratier, who led Canada to the final of the 2014 Women's World Cup, will lead the men in the Americas Rugby Championship starting on Feb. 6, with a home game against Uruguay.

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