GORDON ‘Taff’ Howells is hoping he can build on the success Plymouth Argaum have enjoyed over the last three seasons.
The former Taunton and Barnstaple front-row forward has become the Cornwall/Devon League club’s new head coach, taking over first team duties from long-standing director of rugby Dave Sansom.
After guiding the former Devon Two strugglers to two successive promotions, a Lockie Cup win and a top half finish in their first season in the Cornwall/Devon League, Sansom has decided it is time to step down from the time-consuming commitments of the first team.
He will still be involved with the club by working with the colts and helping off-the-field, particularly with sponsorship. He will also be on hand if Howells needs any advice.
Welshman Howells admitted he had not really considered coaching until towards the end of last season when he was doing some work with a friend on a car near Argaum and was persuaded to go visit the club.
“I went into the club one Thursday night and saw Dave, who said to come up and have a look,” said Howells.
“So I went up to training and I just said is it alright if I jump in and do some line-out work with them?
“And then they just said ‘can you come training again next Thursday?’ I said I can’t come on Thursday as I’m busy, but the following week I went on Tuesday and took the training session and that was it. I started coaching and helping Dave.”
He added: “I was offered the coaching job and I was quite shocked, but Dave said he wanted to go to coaching the colts.
“You can’t fault Dave for what he has done for the club, but he wants to take a step back and help the colts and, hopefully, I can take us forward.
“I will still ask Dave for help, but I just want to put my own mark and professionalism on the club.
“I have changed the captain around and I have even asked his son to be vice-captain. I have also started to get everyone involved in meetings.”
He added: “Since I was offered the job I have been working behind the scenes trying to get stuff done, like sponsorship. I am trying to get local businesses to sponsor and I have brought in more people to join the coaching team and we have more physios turning up.
“We want to also get more of a social side to the club. I have also got a photographer so all the lads are going to have professional photos made and when they turn up in the changing room their names are going to be up on a plaque with a photo and a club badge. I’m just trying to bring in a professional edge, like trying to get more people for pre-season.”
Howells is not scared of setting ambitious targets.
“My goal is to try and push for promotion this year,” he said.
“I have got a guy called Paul Brown, who is second team coach, and they are going to go into a league and their aim is to be top of the table and win the Lockie Cup.
“I’ve got high expectations for the club – that’s what I want.”
Argaum have a number of new players keen to join them for the 2016/17 season and should have others fit after injuries last term.
“Hopefully, Argaum are going to be the ones to watch this year,” said Howells.
The club’s new coach is an injured serviceman based Hasler Company (NSRC) at HMS Drake.
“Due to my injuries I can’t play as I’ve had a disc removed and had my shoulder rebuilt, but this has given me something to do,” said Howells.
“People at work are saying how can you go from just helping out to a head coach? I just say they must have seen something they like.”
Argaum will start pre-season training on June 23.
The club are currently looking for new sponsors to help them keep progressing. They are also doing work to improve their ground, including having advertising boards.