DEVON One side Tamar Saracens have officially appointed former Plymouth Albion hooker Davy McGregor as their new head coach for the 2021-22 season.
McGregor, whose playing career has also included spells at Ulster, Rotherham, Coventry, London Irish, Heriots, Cinderford and Brixham, has been helping Sarries out with coaching sessions but has now taken on the role permanently.
It is just one of a number of changes ambitious Sarries are making for the new season.
They have rebranded the club with a new badge and kit and have entered their second team, which will be managed by Steve Reeves and Adam Sheldon, into the Devon Merit Table.
They have also strengthened their squad after finishing runners-up in Devon One in the 2019-20 season.
Joe Wyatt has returned from Devonport Services, while Jason Stead looks like he might follow. Tommy Pullinger had already agreed to join from Services prior to the break due to the pandemic, while Mark Woodhall and Matt Trotters have also signed for the Parkway club.
Irishman McGregor is certainly relishing the opportunity to move into coaching and is looking forward to trying to help Sarries progress.
“This is a good opportunity and I look forward to hopefully helping them along and getting them where they want to be,” said McGregor.
“It’s a nice transition back into rugby. When it stopped for Covid, I stopped as well, but when you are not doing it for a while you realise that it is something you are missing.
“The club are massively ambitious; they want to get up through the leagues. I think they have been very close the last few years. I would like to think I can add a bit more professionalism and add to what they have already built on.
“I am just looking forward to just getting involved, especially in a head coach role.
“It is nice to be involved with a local club. Albion will always be very close to me after five or six years or whatever it was there, but it is nice to also see what club rugby in Plymouth is like.
“It will be nice to experience the club rugby days that I never really played at senior level as it was always professional or semi-professional. I missed out on that so hopefully as a coach I can get into that.”
McGregor said he did have playing options but has decided to just concentrate on coaching, although he has not totally ruled out pulling on a Sarries shirt if needed.
“I have registered just in case we are low on players, but I think the playing days for me have gone,” said the 31-year-old. “I am getting a few injuries so I do think those days have gone, but you never know.”
He added: “I had the opportunity to go back to Albion potentially and a couple of other clubs. There was also another option to open the door back into semi-professional rugby, which came about a bit weirdly, but to be honest those days are done with as with my business and work I just can’t commit.”
McGregor has worked with plenty of coaches during his long playing career and feels he has learned a lot but he is keen to be his own man.
“I have worked with some amazing coaches at all different levels and you do take a little from everybody, but I think I have my own identity and I trust what I want to achieve,” he said.
He says he has been impressed so far with what he has seen from Sarries.
“The commitment of the boys does make you think,” he said. “It is easy when you are a professional or semi-professional player as you have a reason to be there, but these guys are putting in the same commitment with family and work and everything else.
“There is still a lot of work to do, but that’s the same with any team. For us it is about developing the players so that they can come off at the end of the year feeling like they have learned something and enjoyed it.”
Sarries captain Ryan Deacon is certainly looking forward to working with McGregor.
He said: “Having Davy for a few weeks before our game with Marjons (in June), gave me a real eye opener as to where a pro level competitive rugby player’s mindset is at. And now to have him here at Sarries as the head coach has given us a huge opportunity to learn from his vast experience.”
Sarries will open their pre-season campaign on August 14 when they visit Cornwall/Devon League side Tavistock. They will then host Cornish club Veor on August 21 before playing OPMs ahead of the Paul Lethbridge Memorial Game on August 29.
This year’s Paul Lethbridge Memorial Game will be raising money Solving Kids Cancer, a charity that has been supporting promising young local player George Thompson over the last few years.