Cockles head coach Jon Hill leaves the club after eight years

PUBLISHED: 10:20 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:20 18 May 2018

Exmouth RFC departing head coach Jon Hill

Exmouth RFC departing head coach Jon Hill

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Exmouth head coach Jon Hill is to leave the club after eight years with the Cockles, writes Stephen Birley.

The club announced his departure via a press release after the competition of the Cockles’ season, one that ended with defeat in the Devon Cup at Ivybridge.

We caught up with Jon following the breaking of the news and he spoke at length about his departure.

He said: “It is with great regret, sadness and some bitterness that I will be leaving all of my positions at Exmouth RFC.

“I would like to thank a number of people for making me feel so welcome at the club and for the roles they have played in supporting the club whilst I have been there for the last eight seasons.

“Two promotions, one league championship, five Devon Cup wins, and many a Devon derby victory will, of course, be the main highlights, but it is safe to say that Exmouth Rugby Club has been a massive part of my life for the last eight years and I thank you all for the opportunity.

“The victory over Barnstaple on the last game of the season to win the league was a personal highlight coupled with the play-off victory over Dorking to again promotion to National Two for the first time in the club’s history.”

He continued: “The players, throughout my time have been magnificent, and their efforts truly appreciated.

“The talents in the current squad are in abundance and have achieved some superb accolades for the club along the way.”

Hill then turned his attention to his praise individuals, saying: “The captain’s, throughout my time, have been Mark Wathes, Ross Morshead, Dave Bargent and Jack Fahy and they have led the club in exemplary fashion, helping to develop an Exmouth Brand and a high level of pride and passion that continues to make the CLOGS proud.

“The roles that Chris Wright, Keith Pyne and Roger Holman, amongst so many others, have played throughout my time have been immense.

“ Fitting, I guess, that, with Wrighty [Chris Wright] deciding to leave, that my time has come. Wrighty has been an unbelievable rock for the club, and has supported the dream and the vision at all times. He is, and indeed has been, a man mountain, a key influence and the main reason that I joined the club. I cannot thank him enough.”

“Keith [Pyne], was a fantastic president for the club, a loyal clubman, and a great figurehead. He truly is a real rugby man and one who was always on hand and would be open, honest and supportive to the players.

“He was, indeed is, a man who would always reinforce the old school rugby values and the pride in the Exmouth jersey on and off the field.

“Roger [Holman] – well he basically lives and breathes Exmouth RFC. Other than actually having a bed down there, I am not sure what else he could do to spend more time at the club working on various jobs , so many of them that go un-noticed!

“Chris Parks, the former chairman, was always honest and supportive, recognising his role off the field. He is another whose work behind the scenes often went unnoticed.”

The departing coach continued: “I would like to offer a very public massive thanks to John Justice, who has driven the rugby pathway and has done a lot behind the scenes to ensure that we have a group of very talented youngsters coming through.

“He is another genuine true rugby gent, it is a shame that I will not be able to work with you in helping develop the next generation, with so many good young players coming through this year. The vision and dedication of this guy is sure to ensure the club goes onto achieve lots in the future, and he has massive boots to fill in helping to replace Wrighty.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working on the commercial team. Over the past three seasons we have brought record sums of sponsorship into the club to support the club and its aspirations. Playing league rugby with four senior teams, and so many juniors certainly isn’t cheap, and the roles that Dawn, Jon, Tim, Sue Stone and Jan have played have been superb.

Finding many new sponsors, raising the profile of the club in the media and in the community, and increasing our social media followers by 600 per cent have been some key highlights. It is a shame that Dawn, Jon and Tim are also stepping down.”

Finally, Hill spoke of his closing feelings for the club in general. He said: “It is a truly special and unique club, I doubt I will find another ‘Bongo’ elsewhere, a guy who epitomises what it is like at Exmouth RFC.

“Where else will you find guys like him and Nigel Bates who come to watch training, bring sweets and treats for the players (that go against many nutritional guidelines!), and offer their support in their own special ways.

“Thank you for the memories – ones that will stay with me forever, and I wish you all the best.”

* Here at the Exmouth Journal sports desk we would like to place on record our sincere thanks for the time Jon [Hill] has always afforded us in terms of comments. He never ‘dodged’ a question and was always happy to give a full account of the rugby, be it good, bad, or ugly! Good luck with whatever comes next Jon.

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