Melrose head coach Johnson steps down

Stuart Johnson, the head coach at Melrose Rugby, has left the club and will not be at the helm once the new season begins.

By Ralph Mellon
Friday, 10th April 2020, 1:10 pm

With him have gone his assistant coach Chris Dalgleish, team manager Steven Dyer and fitness coach Bill Noble.

In a statement, Johnson hinted at a difference of opinion on the club’s future path between himself and new joint directors of rugby, Rob Moffat and Colin Meager, who were appointed recently to replace the long-serving Mike Dalgetty.

However, the outgoing coach was quick to wish Melrose Rugby all the best for the future, while the club reciprocated those wishes to him and his coaching team.

The full statement from Johnson, who became head coach at The Greenyards in June last year, said: “I can confirm I have taken the extremely difficult decision to step down from my role as head coach at the club, as have the rest of my coaching and management team.

“I would like to thank Chris, Bill and Steven for their hard work and commitment over the season. It has been a pleasure to work with them in a season that has had its challenges but, in my opinion, has been a success.

“The average age of the squad being under 20, with the majority of players coming from the 2nd XV or the under 18s, to finish fourth in National 1 against established squads can only be viewed as successful.

“On top of that, a semi-final and a final in the two sevens tournaments. Three players had the opportunity to play for the Southern Knights during the course of the season, which shows how much these players have developed.

“To the players, again I want to thank them all for their professionalism, attitude and commitment during a tough season but one of which they can all be proud.

“I would also like to extend my thanks to Rob Chrystie and all the Southern Knights staff and players for the training sessions against us, allowing us to test ourselves against some of the best players in the country. To have opposition of that standard on a regular basis really developed us a squad and individuals.”

Johnson added: “Melrose has been a huge part of my life for the last 22 years and I owe a lot to the previous coaches and players I have had the pleasure to work and play alongside, especially the last 12 years, where we have had great success for me as a player and a coach, winning numerous cup and league titles.

“I have learnt a lot over these years from top-class coaches and players and wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the likes of Craig Chalmers, John Dalziel, Rob Chrystie and Bill Noble. I owe these coaches a lot and cannot thank them enough.

“It’s not just coaches and players I need to thank but one person who has always been there during my time at Melrose, and before me, is Mike Dalgetty.

“He has been one of the longest standing and most successful directors of rugby in Scottish club history and has always been there for me and all the other players who have been at the club during his time at Melrose.

“I know I can speak for all the players and coaches who have worked under Mike when I say a huge ‘thank you’ to him for his support and words of wisdom.

“This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life to leave a club that has given me so much but, under the two new directors of rugby, they have a vision and direction in which they want to take Melrose Rugby Club, which is different to what I have been part of over all these years, so I feel it is best I step aside and let somebody else take over. I wish Melrose Rugby club all the best for the future.”

Melrose Rugby had earlier announced Johnson’s departure in a statement of its own, which said: “Following Mike Dalgetty’s retirement from a long and illustrious period as director of rugby at the club earlier this year, the board appointed Rob Moffat and Colin Meager as the new joint directors of rugby.

“They are in the process of reviewing all coaching structures at all levels from youth to senior. Their aspiration is to develop, encourage and build future local talent from the fantastic pool of young players within the club set up.”

Gordon Brown, chairman of Melrose Rugby, said: “While I respect Stuart and his coaching team’s decision to step down at this time of change, we will be sad to see them go.

“The past season has not been without its difficulties for the 1XV squad, as many of the senior and well-established players moved up to the new Super 6 team.

“However, under Stuart’s management, Melrose more than held their own this past year and showed real signs of enthusiasm, determination, and improvement.

“That’s a fabulous achievement that the coaching team should be proud of. We are lucky to have had the benefit of their experience and we wish them all the very best for the future.”