GRAHAM DAWE felt he should have been given the chance to see out of the season with Plymouth Albion.
The former England international was sensationally shown the door by the new Albion owners on Sunday with two games to go, despite guiding a newly-built team to an impressive 20 wins from 28 matches this season.
Dawe, like all the rest of Albion’s coaching staff and players, would have been considering his own future anyway at the end of the campaign in the light of the takeover by former Plymouth players Bruce Priday and Dave Venables, but he said he would never have walked out on his team mid-season.
“It obviously came as a bit of a surprise and a shock really,” said Dawe, who was informed of the decision the day after Albion beat Loughborough away.
“I was quite happy to go through to the end of the season. I thought it was only right and proper that I should have that chance to take the team right through.
“This is not something I would have planned. Any project I take on, I always want to finish it.”
Dawe, who was asked to help England ahead of their Six Nations campaign, felt he had managed to put together a ‘special squad’ this season similar to the first one he built at Plymouth at the start of the millennium. It was why he was so desperate to make sure the club kept the majority of them to try and push for promotion back to the Championship next term.
“It’s a team who have played exceptionally well travelling the length and breadth of England,” said Dawe. “We have enjoyed each others company and built some real strong bonds. There’s a lot of trust and integrity and it’s a shame we can’t just finish the season altogether.”
He added: “You spend a lot of time building and developing players and building a team ethos.
“The number one thing we have worked on is growing and performing as a team. We never pick out individuals in the changing room and on the pitch the captain makes the decisions and everyone accepts with them.”
Dawe met Priday and former Albion coach Nigel Sparrow, who is part of the new set-up at Brickfields, on Sunday where they told him they wanted to take in the club in a different direction.
The new owners have turned to Exeter to fill Dawe’s void. Chiefs’ assistant academy manager Rob Gibson, who worked under Dawe at Albion years ago, and Sam Morton were introduced to Albion’s players at a meeting with the new owners on Monday night. Chiefs’ Academy manager Robin Cowling was also there.
The players were told the Exeter coaches would help out until the end of the campaign and during pre-season, but the club would look to appoint a new director of rugby/head coach for the start of the 2016/17 campaign.
The players were also informed that the club would be looking to use more Chiefs academy players next term.
The new owners, though, are hoping current Albion assistant coach Simon Lane will continue his part-time work at the club until the end of the season.
Dawe said the new owners told him they wanted a ‘clean slate’.
“Bruce and Nigel explained this was the decision they had made,” said Dawe. “They said it may not be the right decision or a popular one, but it’s a decision they’ve made. They see it as the way forward for them.”