29 June 2017 / Club News

Back to the future for Illts

After a difficult season on the field for the Illts last year, head coach Dai Griffith and forwards coach Lee Highgate have both decided to leave the club. The club would like to put on record the thanks of everyone involved with the club for the hard work both have put in. Dai joined with Matt Silva as forwards coach at the start of the 2015-16 season, and the quality of his sessions and his enthusiasm were reflected on the field as the Illts had a great season culminating in promotion from Division 3A. Last season Grippa stepped up to head coach for the division 2 campaign, and the quality of his sessions and his commitment remained unchanged. A combination of better quality opposition , key departures and difficulty in putting the best team on the field ultimately resulted in the disappointment of an immediate return to division 3. Grippa leaves some great memories, my personal favourite being when he punched the re-enforced iron door away at Cilfynydd at half time, and the club wishes him well in his role as head of rugby at Cowbridge College.

Lee joined at the start of last season in a real coup for the club as he is a highly regarded young coach, not to mention an excellent player. His own performances on the field never dropped and like Grippa, the results last season were no reflection on his coaching or his commitment, which were both excellent. Lee was planning for the rebuilding job this season when he was offered the forwards coach role at his home club Glamorgan Wanderers, which was too big of a chance for Lee to turn down. We wish him well at the Wanderers and look forward to seeing him down at the club when they aren’t playing to keep an eye on his brother in law and back row partner in crime Joe Poole.

Following these announcements, the club are delighted to announce the new coaching team for next season. Returning to the Illts as head coach is Mike Pugsley. Pugs had a very successful first spell as coach in 2010-2011. The situation is actually similar, with the Illts having been relegated the previous year and needing to rebuild. They did this, pushing for promotion before ultimately falling short. The same squad would go on to win the league the following year after his departure to Dubai and his work was a huge part in that. Pugs has been continuing his rugby education in more exotic locations than Cardiff and the surrounding valleys with Dubai Wasps.

Also returning as forwards coach is Matthew Lloyd. Matthew also had a highly successful prior spell with the Illts, guiding the club to promotion from division 4 east and also winning the East District Cup in the 2006-2007 season and then guiding the club to fifth place in division 3 the following year. His first season included 19 consecutive wins, an unbeaten run that extended into the following season and was eventually ended at Treorchy after 364 days unbeaten! Like Pugs, Lloydy took over following a relegation season so fingers crossed he can have a similar impact this time. Since leaving the Illts Lloydy has had successful spells at Caerphilly, Llanharan and St Peters.

Matt Banner continues as backs coach. A highly promising young coach who developed hugely last year, Matt will continue to learn his trade with the experienced coaching team. We wish all 3 well for the season. Pre season starts on Tuesday 11th July at 6.45PM at Moorland Park

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