GRAHAM DAWE has been inundated with support from current and former players following his sudden departure from Plymouth Albion.
The rugby community were stunned to learn that the new owners of the club had asked him to stand down two games before the end of a highly successful season on the field.
A rebuilt Albion team have won 20 out of 28 of their National One games – only champions Richmond have won more – and were hoping to push for promotion back to the Championship next year.
However, the new owners, Bruce Priday and Dave Venables who played for Albion in the 1980s, do not want to work with Dawe next season and want to use the next two weeks to start planning for next year.
But their decision has caused shock and surprise among supporters, especially considering the success Dawe has had with Albion, Cornwall and England in the last 12 months.
His abilities as a coach have been praised by players he has worked with over the years on social media in the last 24 hours.
“Graham’s commitment to Plymouth Albion and Plymouth as a city is second to none.
“His ability to bring a group of players together is the best I’ve seen anywhere in rugby. Graham’s impact upon my rugby career and life in general was massive. An absolute legend in my book.”
Andy Perry, who played in the same Albion pack at Ward-Smith and also went on to play in the Premiership after leaving Brickfields, said: “Graham has had a huge impact on my career. Certainly created something very special during our time at Albion and seemed to be doing the same there now.
“Not sure what the circumstances of his departure are but if he has been shown the door, the new owners will rue the day they made that decision.”
Another member of Albion’s successful 2004-05 squad Luke Arscott, who now plays for Bristol, added: “Gutted to hear Graham Dawe has left Albion. Not many that have put as much into the club as he has over the last 15 years.”
Fly-half Alex Davies, who played for Plymouth between 2008 and 2011, said: “Shocking from Albion sacking one of the most loyal and hard-working Plymouth Albion fans.”
Former England captain and now Sky Sports presenter Pat Sanderson said: “This has to be one of the most short-sighted decisions I have ever seen in rugby.”
Current players have also paid tribute to Dawe on Twitter.
Billy Searle, who is set to join Bristol this summer on a two-year deal, said: “Best coach I’ve worked under and a top bloke.”
Centre Tom Bedford said: “I cannot speak highly enough of Graham Dawe.”
Tom Putt said: “One of the best coaches I have every worked with. Top bloke on and off the pitch.”
Wing Jon Dawe added: “Best coach on and off the field you could work with.”
Sam Matavesi later said: “It is the third time I’ve worked with Graham at Plymouth Albion and every time I’ve learnt something on rugby or in life.
“The squad he has built this year with five players remaining from the previous year is incredible and shows the class of Graham and what he can do. Then to go on and win 20 of games so far is a great achievement.
“I think what sets Graham part personally is that he’s a coach that you want to work for and someone everyone is going to go that extra mile for. The team its bond and togetherness all stems from him and that’s why we’ve achieved what we have this year.”