PGRFC is delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Lough as the club’s new Head Coach.
Lough will replace former Head Coach Dave Baldwin who left the club in June to join Leeds Carnegie. Lough will be assisted by player coaches Karl Fitzpatrick, Alan Holmes and Strength and Conditioning coach James Eastham.
Adelaide born Lough joined Hoppers as a player at the start of 1997/98 season in which he played 24 games. He went onto make 175 appearances in total over the next eight seasons scoring 362 points.
In the club’s National Two North championship winning season of 1998/9 he scored a record 27 tries (which stood as a league record for 10 seasons) and was named the league’s most valuable player.
He captained Hoppers at 24 before having to retire from playing in the 2003/4 season. During his playing career he also represented Australia 7’s at 20, captained South Australia at both junior and senior level at 21 and was the first non-English captain of the senior Lancashire side.
Outside of rugby Michael has a successful digital marketing agency called Blue Wren based in Preston.
Speaking on his appointment Michael said: “I have only ever played for two clubs in my life, Burnside in Adelaide and Preston Grasshoppers and it’s a great honour to be named as Head coach of the club I love.
“We’ve an excellent squad and a very strong coaching setup which gives me great confidence going into the new season. My ambition is to help these players reach the potential I know they are capable of – individual and collectively; as well as play a brand of rugby that is enjoyable and successful.
Newly appointed Director of Rugby, Gareth Dyer said: “I am delighted that we have been able to appoint someone of Michael’s ability from within our existing structure. A proud Australian, Michael is also a proud Hopper and has the required qualities to step straight into the role.
“We’ve worked hard on developing people from within the club and his appointment is testament to this. He began by coaching the Senior Colts squad three seasons ago before moving into the senior ranks to take control of the 2nd XV. He has impressed with his approach and it’s a natural progression for Michael to now move into the Head Coaching role”.
Speaking on the process to appoint a successor to Dave Baldwin, Dyer added: “When Dave moved to Leeds I stated that we’d take our time to find the right person. Hoppers had expressions of interest from numerous candidates outside the club and the standard was very high but we didn’t want a change of personnel to disrupt what we already had in place and that we would be best served by building on the foundations laid over the last two years.
“Michael has been a key part of our coaching set up during that period. He knows the playing squad and understands how the club operates and crucially he is well respected by the players and coaches. He’s worked closely with Karl (Fitzpatrick) and Alan (Holmes) and I am confident they’ll continue to improve as they are a motivated and ambitious trio.”
The club has also re-shaped its rugby structure with Dyer being appointed the club’s Director of Rugby. Dyer will oversee the management of the club’s senior squad (comprising the 1st and 2nd XV structures) and the associated development pathways into the senior set up.
Michael Bailey continues as Chairman of Rugby with responsibility for the wider club. committee.