Damien Hardwick quits: Richmond Tigers coach resigns after 307 games

Damien Hardwick officially stepped down as Richmond manager on Tuesday, ending a long tenure as manager of the club.

Hardwick’s decision comes with 18 months left on his contract with the Tigers, giving them a long time to find a suitable replacement, and he comes less than two months after completing his 300th game as manager.

The 50-year-old has managed the Tigers since 2010 and led the side to Premiership victories in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

In an emotional performance, Hardwick spoke about his time at the club and what Richmond means to him.

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“It’s been an incredible journey and it’s coming to an end. I couldn’t have asked for a better place for my journey as an AFL coach. It was one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever had to have,” Hardwick said Tuesday.

“The way this club has supported me, provided me with all the resources possible, provided me with the best possible people is a testament to what we have created and one of the longest legacies that lives on become.”

“I want to thank Richmond Football Club for the opportunity they gave me. It’s a wonderful place. I also want to thank our fans. The support I have received from the majority of people has been absolutely outstanding.”

“I’ve been fortunate to play at many football clubs, but Richmond Football Club was by far the love of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“From the bottom of my heart guys, I wish you all the best. I will miss you, I love you more than anything.”

The former Essendon and Port Adelaide defender will not be in charge of the Tigers this weekend and insists he is not 100 per cent fit to walk again.

“If I couldn’t bring the best of Damien Hardwick to this group of players, I wasn’t prepared for it. It was a tough decision, but one I’m forever grateful for,” Hardwick continued.

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“It all got a little too much for me. I sort of made a decision not to be Richmond coach next year. The best thing for me was to resign – when I couldn’t give. “I would have 100% not been able to coach this football club.”

President John O’Rourke recognized Hardwick’s contribution to the club

“History was made under his leadership and we will always owe it to him. He is the longest-serving manager in our club’s history,” O’Rourke said on Tuesday.

“His decision came as a shock to our board but he has given it serious thought over the last few weeks and we have to respect that. Selflessness is one of his great qualities. He will always be revered as a Richmond man.”

Richmond currently sits 14th in the AFL rankings with just three wins this season. The club’s poor record and chances of reaching the finals are believed to have played a role in Hardwick’s surprise decision, with the narrow Round 10 defeat by Essendon seen as the final nail in the coffin.

Who will coach Richmond this week?

Highly regarded assistant coach Andrew McQualter will take over the position on an interim basis, while former senior coaches David Teague and Ben Rutten remain with the Punt Road team.

What impact is Damien Hardwick having on Port Adelaide and the coaching landscape?

Hardwick’s departure is the second major coaching blow in the past week as North Melbourne manager Alaistar Clarkson indefinitely retires from the game.

The latest developments could also affect the future of Port Adelaide manager Ken Hinkley, who remains out of contract until the end of 2023 and Hardwick, who has played over 100 games for the club, could be brought in as a replacement.

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This could force the Power to re-sign Hinkley sooner than originally planned with Hardwick likely available.

Club president David Koch said he was “happy” with the Port Adelaide manager and would not bring forward the new deal, if there is one.

“Ken and I agreed before the season started and we’re sticking to the plan,” Koch said.

The future of West Coast frontrunner Adam Simpson has been uncertain for some time given the club’s decline, which has resulted in three wins from 32 games, although he is still tied with the Eagles until 2025.

Club chairman Paul Fitzpatrick sat down with journalist Ryan Daniels and expressed his confidence in Simpson to lead West Coast into the next phase.

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew could also come under criticism as he has not reached the finals since 2018 and could be running out of time despite being under contract until the end of next season.

Who could coach Richmond in the future?

With Hardwick leaving the club, the Tigers could look for a number of coaches.

I keep talking SENTim Watson and Sam Edmund brought up the idea of ​​the former Brisbane player and coach Justin Leppitschwho is currently an assistant coach at Collingwood.

Leppitsch sat in the hot seat for three years between 2014 and 2016 and before and after his brief tenure with the Lions was an assistant manager at Richmond and played a role in the three Premierships.

Port Adelaide Coaches Ken Hinkley According to President David Koch, the contract has expired and will not be signed again until August at the earliest.

Richmond could be pushing hard for the veteran coach given his availability, although the power are likely to re-sign Hinkley given how well they are doing.

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Alastair-Clarkson effect?

Damien Hardwick’s decision to step down as head coach at Richmond bears many similarities to the end of Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn.

Clarkson – who was ousted as part of a succession plan in late 2021 – admitted he stayed with the Hawks a year too long, which has helped his relationship with the club sour.

Hawthorn captain and Premier player Luke Hodge noted uncanny similarities between the two clubs.

“The first thing that comes to mind is, did he learn a little bit from Alastair Clarkson and what Clarkson went through at Hawthorn?” Hodge continued SEN.

“The success that Hawthorn has had and the correlation between Richmond, what they’ve been through and the success they’ve had relative to Hawthorn.”

Clarkson brought in veteran players Tom Mitchell and Jeager O’Meara in late 2016 and missed the 2017 finals due to numerous injuries to key players.

Hardwick secured GWS duo Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper in late 2022 and is likely to be sidelined from the finals this year as the absence of Tom Lynch and Toby Nankervis – and others – has played a devastating role.

“It’s the same point where Clarkson and Hawthorn said in 2017, ‘Are you rebuilding?’ and Alastair Clarkson, who had given his word to those players, and ‘Dimma’ is the same with what he said to Taranto and Hopper said.” Hodge continued.

“It’s very difficult to come back as a coach when you bring players into your club and take back what you promised them. Both promised their players that they would strive for more success again and become part of a premier squad.

“I’m guessing he might have looked, and we heard Clarkson say he probably stayed a year or two too long, and Dimma is probably thinking about it.”

Hardwick also said Tuesday he wanted to leave Richmond “with the very best memories” and not let too long a stay spoil his time.

Damien Hardwick’s coaching record

Hardwick is a three-time Premiership winner with the Tigers, guiding them to victory in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

games wins draws losses Win PCT
307 170 6 131 55%

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