Rowing New Zealand hit by another departure a year out from Tokyo Olympics

After six years with Rowing New Zealand, men's head coach Noel Donaldson has suddenly resigned.

Noel Donaldson coaches Robbie Manson Source: Photosport

The Australian's departure comes with the sport's pinnacle event, the Tokyo Olympics, just over a year away.

During his time with Rowing NZ, Donaldson worked with the highly successful men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and more recently single sculler Robbie Manson, among others.

A review of the sport was conducted following disappointing results at last year's World Championships in Bulgaria where the Kiwi team failed to win a gold medal and sources have told 1 NEWS this played a part in Donaldson's departure.

Rowing NZ refused to answer any questions or comment on a staff resignation but in a statement on its website said: "Noel has made a significant contribution... and has identified during the refresh in the men's programme, that now is the right time for him to leave the programme".

His resignation comes just six months after High Performance Director Alan Cotter's similarly abrupt departure. He's only just been replaced by Judith Hamilton, who will be the General Manager of Performance for the sport through until the end of 2020.

It creates more change in a sport that failed to live up to expectations at the last Olympics in Rio. Their two golds and a silver were short of the five medals targeted by Rowing NZ.

Interestingly, in announcing Donaldson's departure RNZ also confirmed a new men's eight coach for the 2019 season.

Tony O'Connor rowed for Ireland at two Olympic Games and more recently he's been coaching Christ's College in Christchurch.

He'll begin his new role in April while Donaldson finishes up at the end of this month.