It is a major blow for NSW and Australian rugby given how highly Cron is rated.
«NSW Waratahs is disappointed by the news as we have valued Simon’s contribution to our team and he will be sorely missed,» read a statement from the club. «We understand he has another opportunity, which he will announce in due course.
«Simon has added value across NSW rugby union across the Shute Shield, NRC and it has been great to see the roles he has played within rugby in Australia at the different levels of the game.
«Naturally the focus for Simon and the broader team right now is the 2019 Super Rugby season with plenty of rugby still ahead of us. In due course, NSW Waratahs will launch our recruitment process for a new assistant coach.»
Many fans have vented their frustration at how the Waratahs could let a coach like Cron go given the team is hardly setting the world on fire.
Waratahs players and coaches were still coming to terms with the news in South Africa ahead of their clash this weekend against the Bulls in Pretoria.
“You’re happy for him but at the same time he’s going to leave a big hole here,” said fellow Waratahs assistant Chris Whitaker. “I’m sure it’s a hole that the guys above me will start searching for a replacement.
“He’s got a good opportunity over there to be a head coach of a Japanese team with some very experienced coaches around him.
“He’s going to enjoy coaching in a different environment. It’s a different experience. The more experiences you get around the world the better. It’s only going to benefit him.”
Whitaker said Cron’s exit did not necessarily pave the way for him to replace Gibson once he pulls up stumps at NSW.
«I haven’t thought [about that],» Whitaker said. «I’ll try and do the best job I can at the moment.»
The news has come at a terrible time for the Waratahs, who not only have their season on the line but are dealing with the fallout of the Israel Folau saga and trying to figure out a way to improve average home attendances.
While the news might have come as a shock, the mood amongst players has been largely positive towards their New Zealand-born coach.
“It’s sad to see someone like that go but you’ve got to remember what he’s done for the team over the last two years,” said prop Tom Robertson. “In 2017 we had a poor year as a forward pack and in 2018 we ended up coming third in the competition. That speaks for itself and we’re really happy for Cronno to secure his future wherever he goes next. He’s had a massive impact on us.
“We understand as players and as forwards you do what’s best for your family and if you get offered some security with a job it’s better than having a not secure future.
“I don’t have kids but I’m sure he has his hands full with three kids and a wife. He’s just doing what is best for his family.”
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald