Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Plymouth Albion must build strong values to recover from relegation, says Graham Dawe

downPLYMOUTH Albion have to build some strong values at the club this summer in order to recover from their relegation to National One.

That’s the message from recently-appointed director of rugby Graham Dawe after the club’s demotion from the Championship was confirmed on Saturday following their 29-0 defeat at Moseley.

Although Dawe and the players’ main focus is on trying to end a troubled campaign on a high this coming weekend at home to Doncaster, the board are already planning for next term.

“It is very disappointing that the club find themselves in this position,” said Dawe, who returned to help Albion in early January when they hadn’t won a league match all season and were facing administration.

“The Championship is a brutal league with only 12 teams and somebody has to go down. Unfortunately, it is Plymouth Albion.

“There are things to discuss now. The most important thing is that the board of directors, appointed by the shareholders, address the current problems and situation and everyone buys into the values the club have.”

Albion have spent 13 years in English rugby’s second tier. Only Bedford Blues have enjoyed a longer consecutive stay.

Dawe got Plymouth into the league, winning two promotions, and he kept them there before he was replaced by Peter Drewett in November 2011.

Since then Nat Saumi and James Shanahan have had spells in charge. Shanahan was head coach until earlier this month.

Although Dawe, like all Plymouth fans, is disappointed with the club’s relegation, which will see them lose out on £500,000 central funding next season, he feels it is important to put it into perspective.

“We are just very thankful that the club survived the situation in January and is still kicking,” he said. “It’s not screaming much but it’s certainly kicking.

“Hopefully, we can put some bits and pieces together and get people who want to play for the club and attempt to mount a challenge like every rugby club looks to do each summer.

“But, first and foremost, we have a massive fixture against Doncaster at home.

“We have to earn respect from our supporters. Hopefully, a good crowd will turn up to cheer us over the line.”

Dawe hopes Albion can somehow find a killer edge against Doncaster that has been missing for most of the season.

Albion have just not been able to score tries this term. They have only managed 25 from 21 league games, while conceding 84.

Those problems were evident at Moseley on Saturday where the visitors just could not get over the try line. On the one occasion they did their effort was ruled out by referee Tim Wigglesworth.

“We didn’t help ourselves on Saturday,” said Dawe.

“We made too many errors first half but when we turned around I thought we were well in the game. We were 11-0 down having played against the wind.

“We had a lot of field position in their 22 second half, but we did not convert anything. We had line breaks and the referee has pulled two forward passes, while we turned down a penalty in front of the post, albeit 40 metres out, to go for the corner and then the line-out is ruled not straight.”

Albion could be struggling for players for the Doncaster match after Rhys Oakley, Iain Grieve, Jack Arnott and Jake Henry suffered injuries at Moseley.

Player-coach Oakley suffered a suspected broken fibula, fellow back-rower Grieve took a heavy knock go to the head, as did back Arnott, while winger Henry suffered a leg muscle injury.

“It was quite a brutal game,” said Dawe, who is waiting for more news on the extent of the injuries.

Albion have been without influential back-rowers Sam Simmonds, Rob Langley and Herbie Stupple and backs Peter Homan, Elliot Clements-Hill and Ruairi Cushion for a number of weeks due to injuries.


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