Coach Swys de Bruin has parted ways with Lions Rugby, the organisation confirmed on Friday.
De Bruin has worked in the Lions backroom as an assistant coach and head coach for the last seven years.
The 59-year-old coach suffers from clinical depression and had to return home from the Lions' Australasian tour during the 2019 Super Rugby season due to his struggles with mental health.
De Bruin was also employed as an attacking consultant to Rassie Erasmus' Springboks but he resigned that post in August of 2019.
The coach has been an enormous part of the evolution of the Lions into a dynamic attacking force that has consistently fronted the South African effort in Super Rugby. He also served the union as coach of the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup.
De Bruin's private battle
The Lions reached the 2018 Super Rugby final under De Bruin in the season after he replaced Johan Ackermann as head coach but the team failed to make the playoffs in a difficult 2019 season.
"Swys has made a ground-breaking contribution in the style of play and attacking patterns of the team whereby memorable tries have been scored at Emirates Airline Park," Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli was quoted as saying in a press relase issued by the Union.
"On behalf of the management, players and supporters we thank him and wish him well in his future endeavours."
During his time with the Lions, the team won the Vodacom Cup in 2013, the Currie Cup in 2015 and reached the Super Rugby finals is 2016, 2017 and 2018. His role at the Lions has indirectly impacted the Springboks style of play.
"It was an unbelievable seven years with the Lions family," De Bruin said.
"Thank you to everyone who made it special and memorable. I pray for the team to receive God's blessings.
"The Lions will always have a special place in my heart, and always remember as a team we play to score tries and inspire people by the way we play."
Lions Rugby have confirmed that they will proceed with an internal process and consult with SA Rugby in appointing a successor.
It is unclear what the next steps will be for de Bruin who started his coaching career with the Sharks Academy and helped turn around the Lions fortunes after the 2012 Super Rugby relegation. He also served as a coach in the Griquas set-up and the South African under-21 side.