PLYMOUTH Albion’s coaching staff have all stood down in the light of the new owners’ decision to dispense with the services of director of rugby Graham Dawe with two games of the season to go.
Assistant coach Simon Lane and performance coaches Tristan Lark and Lee Jago will no longer work for the National One club, although they are prepared to help the players individually.
Lark has agreed to help them on Saturday as a favour to them and team manager Simon Hicklin, who is still contracted to the club.
The new owners wanted two Exeter Chiefs coaches – Rob Gibson and Sam Morton – to work with Albion’s current staff, who would still pick the team.
However, the selection of the team to face second-placed Hartpury College at Brickfieds this weekend is likely to be left to Hicklin and senior players.
Gloucestershire county coach Lane, who joined Albion on a part-time basis in the summer, said he had not had any dialogue with the new owners since Dawe was asked to leave.
“Initially, I said I would be there on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday this week, but then the news about Graham was announced on Monday and things changed,” said Lane.
“There was also the influx of the two new guys from Exeter. If they hadn’t brought anyone in and the lads still needed someone for the last two games, then I would have stayed for them and Graham would have wanted that.
“But to bring those two guys in from Exeter changed things. If there was 10 games left or if there was a promotion or relegation battle going on then you could understand that, but for the sake of two games it is just such a strange decision.
“There is no evident reason why Graham couldn’t have at least gone through to the end of ht season after all the effort he has put in.
“After everything that has gone into this season that, in all people’s minds, would have been the decent thing to do.
“After working with Graham all year, I would have liked to have finished the season as well.”
Lane has loved his time working with Dawe at Albion and felt the future could have been really bright for their young squad, who have won 20 out of 28 games this term.
“We built up some momentum this season,” said Lane. “The age profile of the squad is common knowledge and players have been given opportunities and they have stepped up. It has been a fantastic journey with them.
“You wish Billy (Searle) and Ollie (Dawe) well with their progression up to Bristol – it’s a great chance for them, but you would have looked to fill those two places and maybe reinforce the squad with maybe three or four other very good players and you would have a hell of a team on your hands.
“It would have been nice to have had a go at that next year.”
Dawe gave Lane his chance at Albion and he is very grateful. He says he has learnt a lot from working with the former England international and says he would love to work with him again in the future.
“I’ve learnt stacks off him,” said Lane. “He’s been fantastic. He’s a very passionate guy but he’s got a hell of a lot of rugby knowledge as well. I have learnt a huge amount which I will take forward and use in any other coaching position I take up next.”
He added: “Graham is very, very open. He’s very good at letting other people lead sessions and handing over responsibility. He lets you run with stuff but will then pick your brains as to why you did something and maybe offer a different alternative, but you need that.
“It’s been a really good 12 months. There’s been some fantastic experiences on the field. The Fylde game in particularly is one of the best games of rugby I have ever seen. There’s been others as well like beating Richmond at home and Blaydon away, which I think was the turning point for us.
“There’s been some very good trips on the road. The team have exceeded everyone’s expectations away from home. Any other team with that sort of schedule would have probably buckled. Where we are geographically it is a hell of a trip to pretty much every game.”