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Guinness Premiership
Hill quits Bristol three months early
PA Sport
February 27, 2009

Bristol have confirmed that head coach Richard Hill has left the Premiership strugglers - three months earlier than planned.

Hill, who had been in charge since 2003 and guided Bristol to promotion four years ago, was due to leave at the end of the season, but a miserable run of form has seen the cash-strapped club act early. Assistant Paul Hull will step in as his replacement at the Memorial Stadium with Bristol seemingly bound for relegation. The club are nine points adrift at the foot of the table with only nine points from 14 games.

Hill has recently been linked with a move to several clubs but French side Montauban, who currently lie seventh in the Top 14, appear to be favourites for his services.

"We had already agreed with Richard that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season but given the position we are in believe it to be more appropriate for Richard to leave now and for Paul Hull to take over as head coach," Bristol CEO Steve Gorvett said in a statement.

Hill took over at Bristol in 2003 after the club had been relegated. He guided them back to the Premiership in his second season and then managed a third-placed finish a year later, but things have turned sour this season.

Bristol were hammered 35-3 by Newcastle at home two weeks ago, and Hill effectively signalled the end of his reign last Friday when he allowed Hull to take charge of the team at Sale, a game Bristol lost 32-13.

"Richard joined the club when we had just been relegated and quickly built a team for the first season in the First Division and obtained promotion the following season," Bristol chairman Chris Booy said.

"Particular highlights of Richard's time as head coach would be surviving our first year in the Guinness Premiership, finishing third the following season and then competing in the Heineken Cup. I would like to thank Richard for all that he has done for the club and wish him well for the future."

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