Tana Umaga’s coaching career is hanging by a thread after he was sensationally red-carded while coaching glamour French club Toulon.
Umaga whose side has lost four of their last seven games was sent off last week after he left his coaching box to march onto the field at the end of a five-minute all-in brawl. He carried water bottles so he could address his forward pack.
Rugbyheaven reports that the farcical scene only got uglier for the All Blacks legend when he ignored the referee’s orders to get off the field.
After he refused to turn and face the referee Umaga was sent off.
The embarrassing affair led some senior Toulon officials to question Umaga’s future at the club.
Sunday News understands that even before Umaga’s march of shame, billionaire president Mourad Boudjellal had approached former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer, who was the man many believe should have replaced Jake White as Springboks coach.
Toulon were slapped with a $20,000 fine for a brawl on March 15 and face heftier punishment, along with Umaga, for the incident against Pau when they front up to a disciplinary hearing on April 16.
Boudjellal was an admirer of Umaga as a player but is desperate to see a return on the fortune he’s ploughed into the second division team. Sunday News understands Meyer has already held a series of meetings with the club in France.
After a recent loss Boudjellal is believed to have blasted Umaga who is being paid $1.3m a season and his highly-paid players.
As well as Umaga, Saimone Taumoepeau was also shown a red card in the game against Pau while George Gregan was shown yellow for shouting an obscenity. Last month Boudjellal called a hastily-arranged press conference where he gave Umaga the dreaded vote of confidence before admitting the club was in a mini-crisis and announced some extraordinary measures he’ll be taking.
These included isolating the team from the public and keeping them locked away in a secret location, demanding their games were no longer televised, banning pre-match press conferences and making just one player or coach available for post-match comments.
Umaga has been a long-time critic of referees, famously sounding off about them after playing his last game for the Hurricanes in May.
“I’m going to tell my son to become a ref because it’s the safest job in the world and you get paid well for it. That’s the frustration I’ve had for a long time and it’s simmered to the top this year. But what can you do?”
Umaga said what frustrated players most was the inconsistency of referees.
“It’s hard when they change from week to week and say one thing in the changing room before the game and then go out and it’s totally different from what they said and you can’t understand why. It’s consistency of what they rule that’s been the problem. It’s come to a stage where sometimes they are refereeing more on reputation than what they see.”
Players on the books of Toulon include Anton Oliver, Andrew Mehrtens, Victor Matfield, Orene Ai’i, Tusi Pisi, Lawrence Sephaka, Dan Luger, Chris Rossouw. Boudjellal has tried to sign Jerry Collins and Schalk Burger in the past and Sunday News has been told he’s desperate to sign Dan Carter for next season.
He is currently locked in a legal battle with the Bulls to bring Bakkies Botha to the club.Tweet