Hoppers make changes

Date: 05 May 2014

Hoppers make changes to Senior Coaching Setup

The end of the 2013/14 season will see a number of changes being made to the PGRFC senior coaching setup.

Current Head Coach Michael Lough will step down from his role after the final league game against Sheffield Tigers whilst player assistant coach Karl Fitzpatrick is leaving the club after 4 years at Lightfoot Green. The club has already moved to appoint a successor with Garth Dew newly installed as Lead Head Coach for the 2014/15 season.  Dew, son of former 1st XV Captain and Director of Rugby Chris, will work alongside Alan Holmes who is already an important part of the club’s coaching hierarchy.

New Head Coach, Garth Dew

Lough steps down after two seasons in the Head Coach role. Prior to taking on the position he was 2nd XV Coach and before that oversaw the coaching for the Colts set up. In this weekend’s match program Michael cites time pressures as being behind his decision whilst also providing his own thoughts on his time in charge. He will continue to be involved with the club as part of the Rugby Committee.

Speaking about Lough’s decision, Director of Rugby Gareth Dyer said “Michael will step back from his role after the Sheffield Tigers game. Michael gives the reasons for his decision in the program but I am delighted that the club will continue to benefit from Mike’s experience off the field. Mike is in a unique position to advise the club having served it with distinction as a player, captain and in various coaching roles. His knowledge, experience and passion for Hoppers will mean that potential issues can be identified before they arise whilst Mike is someone whose opinion is to be respected as they always have the best interests of the club at heart”.

Fitzpatrick leaves the club after four seasons in which he has served as both a coach and a player. He has taken on the Football Manager role at Warrington Wolves whilst like Lough, he also has a young family. Dyer said “I have massive respect for Fitzy and all that he has brought to the club during his time at Lightfoot Green. I have learnt a lot from his experience and approach and he has had a huge impact on raising the playing standard across the senior squad. As a player we have seen his whole hearted and professional approach to his own game and he has been a class act for us, both on and off the field”.

The appointment of Dew is an exciting appointment by the club. Dew 26, enjoyed a successful playing career which was unfortunately curtailed by a serious ACL and LCL knee injury during the 2012/13 season. A product of Hutton Grammar School, as a schoolboy he enjoyed a glittering representative career. Having played Lancashire age group rugby throughout his teens, he was elevated to divisional rugby where he captained the North at both U16 and U18. Full school boy international honours followed as he went on to play for England at U16, U18 and U19 age groups. He was part of the Sale Sharks set up for a number of seasons before joining Manchester to play in the Championship. From there he went onto join Sedgley Park where he became the club’s youngest ever captain, a position he held until injury forced his early retirement.  He follows in his father’s footsteps in taking on a prominent coaching role at Lightfoot Green.

Talking about his appointment, Dyer said “Garth has an outstanding rugby pedigree and is what I call a “rugby animal”. He has a deep understanding of the game and what it takes to be successful at this level and above.  We brought him on board last summer to work on certain areas but it has become clear that Garth has the ability to take on the Lead Role. I can emphasise with his position in having to hang up his boots early and then taking on a different role within the game. I have no doubt he can take us forward. He is a leader and is very clear about what he wants. There has been a phased handover taking place over the last 2 months under Mike’s watchful eye with Garth and Alan taking on more responsibility for team preparation. The early indications have been positive and the players have certainly responded to what they are being asked to do”.

Turning to Holmes, Dyer continued “Alan is integral to what we are trying to do as a club. He remains a strong performer on the pitch and a key driver off it. He is a talented coach and is very highly thought of by players and members alike. He is already working closely with Garth and they make a very good partnership. Alan’s opinions on all rugby matters are always keenly sought and he is a very important part of our structure. He is a leader and together with Garth he will be in charge of where we go as a squad in the coming seasons”.

The website will be carrying further articles from those involved in the changes over the coming week including interviews with the new coaching team at Lightfoot Green.


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