The Cornish All Blacks have sacked head coach Spike Rainford and replaced him with prop Neil Bayliss as acting director of rugby.
The decision was made at an emergency board meeting on Monday and a shocked Rainford was informed later that evening.
Rainford, who took over at Polson Bridge in May 2012, was due to stand down at the end of the current National League Two South campaign, but he will have no further involvement with the club this season.
Bayliss takes immediate control of first-team affairs, assisted by coaches Tom Rawlings and Kieron Lewitt.
The move has been made with the Launceston club just one position above the relegation places. They have lost four of their last five league games, including their last two at home, having previously been unbeaten at Polson Bridge this season.
Club secretary Simon Johnston said: “Nobody likes to have to ask a proud man like Spike to walk away from his duties as head coach, but the board were unanimous in their decision to try a more pragmatic approach until the end of the season under Neil’s stewardship.
“Our recent run of results hasn’t been good enough, especially during our most recent home game against Southend which lacked both direction and leadership.
“We told the players that they have only eight remaining league fixtures and it is critical that we start to pull away from our current league position.
“We owe it to our paying supporters to ensure that we remain in National League Two South next season.”
The decision was a bitter blow for Rainford, who had already started preparations for the club’s crucial league fixture against third-from-bottom Chinnor this weekend.
“I was just sitting down, watching the match DVDs and writing up the training plan for this week and then got the call from the club,” he said. “I was told that was it and they were replacing me.
“It is with immediate effect and I will not be involved at all between now and the end of the season. I suppose, it comes with the territory in rugby and football. If results don’t go your way, you are the one who gets the chop.
“I have really enjoyed my time there, working with the players. With all things considered, I think I gave it a fair crack. I would have loved to have been higher in the league, but it is really evident that money is coming back into the London clubs. It is difficult for us.”
The club are still searching for a permanent successor. Johnston added: “Neil’s appointment is only until the end of the current campaign.
“We have advertised [the job] and still welcome applications to take on the role for next season”.
The closing date for applications is March 14.