Preston Grasshoppers have announced that Head Coach Garth Dew and Director of Rugby Alan Holmes will be stepping down from their roles at the end of the season.
The club confirmed yesterday that changes will be made to both the rugby management and coaching staff following an internal review of rugby operations.
It comes on the eve of a crucial relegation battle against fellow strugglers Luctonians at Lightfoot Green, and only six days after Hoppers impressively beat high-flyers Leicester Lions to keep their survival hopes alive.
Dew has been in charge of the club for three seasons, and remains committed to helping Hoppers retain their level four status.
In a statement, Dew said: “It has been a massive honour to be head coach of my hometown club over the last 3 seasons and I will always look back on the experience with pride.
“There’s been some special moments as both a coach and a player that will always stick in my mind, and despite us not having the greatest seasons on paper, I hope that I have passed on some valuable knowledge and experience to our young squad which will help them progress through their rugby careers.
“I have always been 100% committed to this job and will remain so until the end of the season as we strive to maintain our National 2 status, but I will also look forward to some time away from rugby to concentrate on my personal life and career.
“I feel this is the right time for the club to head in a new direction, and I will always be an avid supporter of Hoppers and continue to be involved as a member.
“I’d like to thank the club committee and members for giving me this opportunity, and I’d especially like to thank Alan Holmes, Ian Mcfarlene, Mark Taylor and Jason Duffy for their support, as well as all the players who have put their bodies on the line for the cause.”
Holmes will end a five-year association with the National League 2 North side, joining the club as a front-row forward from neighbours Fylde, before injuries saw him move into a management role.
He plans to spend more time with his family and focus on his teaching career at AKS School in Lytham.
Holmes stated on the club’s website: “After committing the past 18 years of my life to this beloved game, I feel it is time for me to take a step back.I have had a great time at Preston, made good friends and met some fantastic people.
“I thank everyone for their support over the past five seasons and I will continue to support hoppers, just now as a spectator.
“I urge you all to get behind this group of players over the following weeks, as we are committed to stay in this league and I truly believe we can do it.”
Speaking on behalf of the club, Chairman of Rugby Mike Bailey said:“The club wishes to place on record its sincere thanks to both Alan and Garth for their efforts on behalf of Preston Grasshoppers RFC over a number of seasons, in terms of both their playing and coaching commitments.
“They have contributed hugely to the club in what has been a period of transition on the pitch and significant changes off it.
“Alan and Garth have worked hard with a mostly young squad and it is pleasing that a number of young players have been given their opportunity to start their senior playing careers during their time in charge. Those players will form the bulk of our playing squad in the years ahead.
“Both Alan and Garth will continue to lead the club with their usual determination and commitment from now until the end of the season as the 1st XV battles to retain its National Two status. The club is fully behind them in those efforts”.
Bailey also confirmed that the club are now seeking applications for the Director of Rugby role ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, and will additionally be speaking to both Dew and Holmes about retaining a future involvement at Hoppers.