HUDDERSFIELD Rugby Union Club are to have a new man at the helm.
Director of rugby Mark Sowerby will remain in charge for the rest of this campaign as the club battle to retain National II North status.
But the ex-Wakefield ace, who guided Huddersfield to the highest level in their 100-year history, has been told he will not be required in his present capacity next season.
The club have cited Sowerby’s increased work commitments, which have led to unavailability for training sessions, as the main reason for looking to make a new appointment.
Chairman of the rugby committee Bill Duncombe explained: “Because of Mark’s increased work commitments, it has meant he has not been around for training sessions and it has been difficult for him to fulfil other aspects on the administration side.
“Although it is not a signal of dissatisfaction with the way he has carried out his job, the committee felt it was in the best interests of the club if he stepped down from his position as director of rugby, and we revert back to the system where the chairman of rugby has the responsibility for all rugby matters.
“Since Christmas, (forward) Dan Hyde has taken on the major coaching role, and both he and (backs coach) Neil Summers are happy to stay on, although there is still some dust to settle and things to sort out before we decide on the make-up of the coaching staff.
“Obviously we hope Mark will choose to stay on in some capacity, because since he came here following Wakefield’s demise, Huddersfield have been his club.”
Without question, Sowerby has been the most influential and successful coach the Lockwood Park club have ever had.
When he joined at the start of 2004-05 at the invitation of coach and ex-captain Mike Lumley, Huddersfield were languishing in the relative obscurity of North II East.
Initially the powerful No8 was captain, but the following season he took on the dual role of player-coach and was instrumental in drafting in Neil Summers as assistant player-coach, as well as recruiting Jamie Grayshon, Andy Metcalfe and Richard Hughes to help win immediate promotion to North I.
Under Sowerby’s guiding hand, Huddersfield continued to make progress and on April 26, 2008, he was at the helm when the Lockwood Park club finally reached National League level for the first time, beating Luctonians 22-7 in the promotion play-offs.
Having fulfilled the club’s long-standing ambition of getting to national level, Sowerby called time on his playing career to concentrate on coaching and looking after first-team affairs in his new appointment as director of rugby, bringing through many academy players.
Although philosophical about the committee’s decision, Sowerby is bitterly disappointed at both the timing and how the decision was broken to him, but nevertheless is determined to see his side safely through the next few weeks as they battle to retain their current status.