Bristol have suspended rugby director Andy Robinson following their dismal start to the season.
The Aviva Premiership club said that former England and Scotland head coach Robinson is suspended from his role and “an immediate review” of coaching needs and requirements will be carried out.
Robinson, 52, has been in charge at Bristol since 2013 and signed a new three-year deal with the club as recently as August.
Former Bristol fly-half and the club’s all-time record points scorer Mark Tainton has been appointed as acting head coach with immediate effect.
Bristol, promoted back to the Premiership this season following a seven-year exile from English rugby’s top flight, have yet to win a game.
They are currently seven points adrift at the league basement, having collected just two losing bonus points from seven starts.
And Bristol also lost their opening two European Challenge Cup games last month, being beaten by Cardiff Blues and Bath.
In a statement, Bristol said: “Bristol Rugby have decided, following the extremely disappointing start to the season, to appoint Mark Tainton as acting head coach with immediate effect.
“The club’s all-time leading points scorer, Tainton has previously coached at international level with Ireland, as well as with Wasps and London Irish in the Aviva Premiership.
“The club have also taken the decision to suspend the current director of rugby, Andy Robinson, from his role.
“The club will carry out an immediate review of their coaching needs and requirements. That review will be completed as quickly as possible.”
And Bristol chairman Chris Booy told the club’s official website: “This is clearly a very difficult time for the club, but we remain confident we can retain our position in the Premiership.
“The support for the club this season has been outstanding, and that continued backing is very important going forward.”
Bristol endured a tough start to the Premiership season in terms of opponents, with their opening round of fixtures including appointments with league champions Saracens, in-form Wasps, Exeter and Northampton.
But they were comprehensively beaten each time, with the promise shown during a narrow opening-weekend loss against Harlequins at Twickenham quickly evaporating.
With the Premiership campaign already almost a third over, Bristol face a Herculean task to preserve their place and avoid a quick-fire return to the Championship.
South Africans Heyneke Meyer and Gary Gold have already been linked to Bristol’s senior coaching role.