Kieran Crowley has stepped down as coach of Canada after accepting a role in European rugby, Rugby Canada confirmed on Wednesday.
Only late last month, Crowley had agreed to lead Canada through qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after overseeing last year's campaign in England, but the 54-year-old New Zealander is now reportedly set to join Pro12 outfit Benetton Treviso.
Crowley, who had been at the helm since 2008 and guided Canada to two World Cups including the 2015 showpiece where the minnows finished winless, will be replaced by women's coach Francois Ratier in the interim.
"We are disappointed to see Kieran leave, however we appreciate all he has given our program over the past eight years and wish both him and his family the very best as he takes on a new challenge in Europe," said Rugby Canada program manager Gareth Rees.
"The 2015 Rugby World Cup didn't produce the results we needed but the team played at the very highest level and threatened the world's top teams. Rugby Canada is gearing up for a huge challenge leading into qualification for 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
"We have made significant changes to our set up and the players and coaches are excited and ready to get to work for the Canadian cause."
Rugby Canada general manager Jim Dixon added: "I am confident the players will continue to step up and perform under Francois' leadership at the Americas Rugby Championship.
"Rugby Canada has already begun a global search for a permanent head coach. It is expected there will be plenty of interest in fulfilling this important role and the necessary time will be taken to find the right candidate."
Ratier will take charge ahead of next month's inaugural Americas Rugby Championship, starting against Uruguay on February 6.