Dyer Departs

Date: 28 April 2015

With the league campaign now completed and National League rugby confirmed for another season at Lightfoot Green, as has been known around the club for a while, Director of Rugby Gareth Dyer has decided to step down from the role after six seasons as part of the club’s Rugby Management. He will be succeeded by current forwards coach Alan Holmes who has been fulfilling the role during a handover period in recent months.

Speaking on his decision, Gareth said “I informed the club at the start of January that I would be seeking to step down from my role at the club. Whilst I would remain in post until the end of the season, it would be sensible to start to pass duties onto a successor so that an efficient handover could be conducted. This has been taking place now for several weeks and Alan has been effectively carrying out the Director of Rugby role for the last 3 months. The club felt it was right to hold off making this statement until our status was assured so that Alan could officially start the role with a clear mandate. However as we left things a little late to ensure our league survival, we have had to hold back on the timing of an official statement!”

Explaining the reasons behind his decision to call time on his tenure as Director of Rugby, Dyer said “I recently became a father and also started a new job. These are two big changes for me personally but I have also been involved in rugby management roles for the last 12 years and perhaps it’s the right time for me to reassess my approach and commitment to the game and decide upon what might be the right option for me in the future. Administering the game at this level gets harder year on year and the time commitment required to do the job grows. It is a personal gripe that the bodies governing our game seem to treat clubs like Hoppers as if we have a full time rugby staff who must respond to their promptings as would professional clubs with dedicated rugby employees”.

Since his return to the club, Dyer has overseen a rollercoaster of finishes during his six seasons back at Lightfoot Green. “Finishing 3rd and 4th in consecutive seasons and reaching back to back Lancashire Cup Finals was obviously pleasing but more so was the style of rugby we played in doing so. When long standing club members remark to you that the style of rugby being played was producing some of the best entertainment they’ve ever seen at the club then you have to take pleasure from comments like that. It was a little disappointing that we were not able to sustain or build on that with a promotion push but I believe we are in a rebuilding phase and the signs during the course of this season have been promising”.

Reflecting on the campaign just gone he said “I felt we were in a bit of a false position in terms of our league standing all season. Bar three disappointing performances against Ionians away and Ampthill & Chester at home, we have been very competitive and have beaten five of the top eight during the campaign. Naivety has cost us a number of close games and if we had turned just half of those tight defeats into wins then we would have had a comfortable top half finish. In the end we made hard work of things but the performance at Hull on the last day was full of commitment and good game management and the momentum that days like that can provide has to be used as a springboard for next season. The club has an excellent young head coach in Garth and a pool of excellent young players coming through. The travails of this season will have developed a hard edge in both the coaches and the players and in my opinion the addition of a couple of experienced heads on the pitch would see this squad take off. An experienced organizer in the backs and another one in the back five of the scrum would add some much needed “nous” to the squad. I’m sure there are these types of players out there who would be energised as being part of such a promising squad and I trust the club will be doing all it can to bring those types of character into the squad.”.

Dyer was also keen to highlight the positive returns the club has had from investing in its senior squad structure and it is fitting that the last game of the season sees the 2nd XV going for a second cup win in recent seasons. “When I returned to the club the 2nd XV structure had lost its way somewhat and wasn’t doing what we needed it to do. I recall spending a Good Friday frantically ringing around just to get a 15 together to play a rearranged game against Sedgley. Due to a massive injury crisis and unavailability’s, I had to ask players from just anywhere to turn out. We got a bare 15 together, were predictably thrashed and I resolved to make sure that we got the right structures in place to take us forward. I suggested we raise the profile of 2nd XV rugby with ideas like Friday Night games under floodlights and increased coverage but most importantly to ensure that we adopted a squad mentality so that we developed a bigger group of players. I think the results have been evident for all to see in terms of our competitiveness at this level but most importantly the players it has helped to push through to 1st XV level”.

Reflecting on his return to the club and the six years, Dyer wanted to thank a number of people. “I’ve really enjoyed my time back at the club. There are lots of people to thank for their support. The coaches I’ve worked with such as Alex Keay, Dave Baldwin, Karl Fitzpatrick, Mike Lough, Al Holmes and John Young and now Garth have all been great to deal with. The off the field team have been dedicated and very much unsung heroes (and heroines), and particular mention in this regard must go to Ian McFarlane and Ade Jebb. I also want to thank my family and friends who have supported my commitment to rugby over the years.”

“Most of all I would like to thank all the players who have made the last six years such an enjoyable time. The most important people in any rugby club are the players and it’s been a privilege to be involved with such an excellent group of people. I wish them all the very best for the future and I look forward to watching them on the field wherever they are playing.

“Finally, it has been great to be able to return to a club that I have such long term ties with. When I brought my two week old daughter to the Stourbridge game, I was reminded by a lot of the older members of the club that they recall seeing my parents bringing me to Lightfoot Green when I was of a similar age. Off the field, that opportunity to re-engage with so many people I’ve known for many years whilst meeting so many new friends has been humbling. The family atmosphere is such a strong part of the club’s identity and should be cherished by everyone with an interest in the club. Rugby clubs are special places and Lightfoot Green has been like a second home to me for a long time. I hope to see the club thrive in the years ahead and I wish everyone involved the very best. To everyone who has ever been a part of the club, you know that “Once a Hopper, always a Hopper!!”

The club would like to say a huge thank you to Gareth for all the time and hard work he has brought to the role over the last 6 years. The club is in a very good position to move forwards thanks to his endeavours.

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