Munster's exodus gathers momentum
NEWS: Munster’s recent upheaval is continuing with CEO Garrett Fitzgerald confirming he will retire in June after being at the helm of the Irish club since 1999.
His departure is the latest off-field exit at the province. It follows the recent announcements that assistant coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones have both turned down contract extension offers, while former All Black Doug Howlett, their commercial and marketing boss, is quitting to return to New Zealand.
Fitzgerald, the Munster coach in 1992 when they defeated the touring Australia in a memorable encounter in Cork, had enjoyed some landmark moments during his lengthy stint as CEO.
They include the winning of two European Cups, three leagues, the redevelopment of Thomond Park and Musgrave Park, and the playing squad’s move to a single training base in University of Limerick.
Most recently, Fitzgerald, who had been on a recent leave of absence to treat an illness, was honoured by the Federation of Irish Sport for his outstanding contribution to the sport.
He said: “I look back on my time in Munster with the fondest of memories. I have experienced fantastic days, working with great people in a unique environment, and for this I’m very grateful.
“A strong identity and unique culture are two of Munster rugby’s greatest assets. With the ever-changing rugby landscape, it is this culture and a shared belief system that sees the province consistently thrive at the highest level.
“I believe harnessing all that is good about Munster rugby will lead to future success for the province, and I look forward to seeing the brand and organisation continue to go from strength to strength.”
IRFU CEO Philip Browne added: “Since his appointment in 1999 Garrett has transformed Munster. He has succeeded in keeping the very best of the amateur era ethos at the club while building it into a professional sports club that is the envy of many throughout the rugby world.”
Munster, who curiously handed head coach Johann van Graan an early contract extension in April, and the IRFU will now begin a recruitment process to fill the position. In the meantime, Philip Quinn will continue in his role as acting CEO.