Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann is leaving the club to join Japanese side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

The 49-year-old South African has spent three years with the Cherry and Whites, taking them to the final of the European Challenge Cup in his first season.

Announcing the news, Gloucester chairman Martin St Quinton said: “I’d like to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the club over the three seasons he’s been with us.

“His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”

Gloucester said in a statement they would use the delay caused by coronavirus to assess the future of their coaching and playing department.

Director of rugby David Humphreys added: “While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester Rugby, I fully understand his reasons for doing so.

“In his three years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his ‘play to inspire’ philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the club.”

Johan Ackermann is moving onJohan Ackermann is moving on (Paul Harding/PA)

Upon announcing his exit, Ackermann said: “Being head coach of Gloucester Rugby has been a tremendous privilege for me and I have loved every minute of it.

“Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. I would especially like to thank Martin for the faith he has shown in me.

“His support and friendship have meant a lot to me. Gloucester Rugby fans are a truly unique group and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the club nothing but the best.”