PHIL Larder has quit Keighley Cougars - less than six weeks after re-joining the club.

The 74-year-old, who was coach of the club during the original Cougarmania era between 1994 and 1996, has left his role as director of coaching due to personal reasons.

Mick O'Neill, Cougars chairman, paid tribute to Larder. He said: "Phil is a legend here at Cougar and we are all very sad to see him go.

"We naturally respect his decision and would like to extend our thanks to him for all he has done for the club, both past and present."

Larder was brought back to Cougar Park to help mentor 32-year-old head coach Rhys Lovegrove, who took over from Craig Lingard last month.

Under Larder's brief return to the club, Cougars came off then bottom of Betfred League One following a 12-point deduction during pre-season.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus on his return in May, Larder explained his love of the club. He said: "I have a big soft spot for Keighley from when I was last here.

"I have a lot of respect for Mick O'Neill and Mike Smith

"I owe Keighley and Mick O'Neill and the fans who were fabulous with me."

Under Larder's guidance, Keighley won the second division championship in the 1994-95 season. However, when Super League was created the following year, Keighley were excluded.

Larder was dubbed the 'Sir Alex Ferguson of rugby' by O'Neill after a successful career in both codes.

"In league, he coached Cougars, Widnes and Sheffield Eagles. He went on to the international stage with England and Great Britain.

In union, he worked with Sir Clive Woodward as England's defence coach. He moved to Leicester Tigers, where the team won four consecutive Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups. He also had two spells at Worcester Warriors and worked as defence coach on the 2001 and 2005 British and Irish Lions tours.

Following a blank weekend, Cougars return to action on Sunday, July 14 when they host bottom-placed West Wales Raiders in their Pride match in Betfred League One. A host of celebrity guests, including model and TV personality Katie Price and Wakefield Trinity prop Keegan Hirst, will be at Cougars Park for the match.