Rugby

RUGBY: Lewis to step down from head coach role at Devonport Services

Devonport Services celebrating winning promotion to South West One in April 2018 (picture by Mike Yeats)

MIKE LEWIS has confirmed he will be standing down as Devonport Services’ head coach at the end of the season due to work and family commitments.

But Lewis, who has helped transform Services from a mid-table Western Counties West side to a title-chasing South West One outfit over the last six years, intends to stay involved with the club in a less time-consuming role and help a new coach settle in.

Services are looking like they could be promoted to a new-look level five. They currently sit third in the South West One West table with just four games to go and could still win the title.

However, Lewis, who has a young family, has found it hard to commit as much as he would like this season.

Since Covid, he has been combining his coaching role at Devonport with a full-time job outside rugby, which involves working weekends. And, if Services are promoted in the RFU’s restructure at the end of the season, then even more commitment will be needed.

“There’s definitely a time constraint element to it,” admitted Lewis.

“Due to my job, I can only make one in six Saturdays and that really holds things back.

“And if my standards drop then there’s a risk other people’s will.”

He added: “I would happily do this all day, every day and that’s because I think it is a great club and the boys have always been fantastic. Each group that has come though has always been great to work with.

“Each year since I have been here we have got better and better, yet I think we might have just plateaued slightly this season, but I currently have not got any more time to give to try and take the club to the next level, which is why I think it’s important for me to step aside.”

The former Plymouth Albion player and ex-Launceston and Tavistock coach, who has previously worked as a community coach for the RFU and Albion, admits what he earns from rugby is not enough to pay his mortgage and bills and so he has had to make some difficult decisions for the sake of his family.

But he has been helping the club find a successor and Services hope to officially announce a new head coach before the end of the season.

“I am going to still be involved in some sort of a way,” he said.

“But it will be a lot less hands on and more about helping to make the transition smooth.”

Lewis admits he has enjoyed every minute of coaching the team and he has been proud to help guide them to their highest ever league position. He said he has particularly enjoyed seeing youngsters come through the club’s junior sides into the first team.

“There’s plenty of young of young lads who have come through the colts over the years and are now playing first team rugby and as a coach that is what you want to do – make sure players are progressing and getting better,” he said.

He is hoping the club can finish the season in style by enjoying success in the league and winning the Devon Senior Shield.

Services, like most clubs, are not in action this week, but Saltash do have a league match on Saturday when they host Veor at Moorlands Lane (2.30pm).

The Ashes will have been boosted by holding high-flying Cullompton to a draw last weekend.

They are set to name a similar side to last week, although Danny Snook is unavailable but Dale Thompson returns.

Meanwhile, Plymouth Argaum will be in Lockie Cup action at Bickleigh Down when they host the Peninsula Medical School (12noon) in the quarter-finals. The winner is due to play Saltash in the last four.

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