WITHYCOMBE coach Mark Tomlinson is standing down at the end of the month due to ill health, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

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=Player-coach Glenn Channing will take over from Tomlinson when he calls it a day. He came in at the start of the season with Tomlinson as part of a new regime at Raleigh Park.

Tomlinson said he has scaled down his commitment to Withycombe over the past few months and would bow out completely at the end of February.

‘I suffer from multiple sclerosis, although thanks to the medication I take you wouldn’t notice unless you knew,’ said Tomlinson.

‘The big thing with MS is that it leaves you feeling very fatigued, which is why I have had to cut back on my coaching.

‘Coaching twice a week and going to matches on Saturdays has proved to be more onerous than I imagined.

;What I have found is I can’t give the commitment to coaching I would want and carry on working full-time in teaching.

‘I began to cut down on going to matches a while ago. By the end of February I will step back completely and Glenn will take over.’

Tomlinson, who was a player with Crediton before joining the Metropolitan Police, has had a varied career in Devon since switching to coaching.

Along the way he has coached at Okehampton, Tavistock, Barnstaple, Wessex, Crediton, Exmouth and Sidmouth, where he started the club’s upward path from the Cornwall & Devon Division to where they have been in South West One for several seasons.

Tomlinson has also coached youth rugby at Torrington and the ladies game at University of Exeter and England Students level.

Tomlinson told Withycombe all about his condition when he was interviewed for the post, saying they had been ‘fantastic’ to work with from start to finish.

He added: ‘If you have to finish anywhere I can’t think of a better place than Withycombe, where I have really enjoyed my time.

‘I won’t be a head coach anywhere else in future, but hope to do the odd session here and there as a guest.’

Nigel Symons, the director of rugby at Withycombe, said he was sorry to see Tomlinson go.

“I have never met any coach as keen or enthusiastic as he has been and that has been great for the club,” said Symons.

“Mark is a bit old school when it comes to coaching, but as Glenn is more modern in some of his approaches that has worked well for us to have two different approaches.

“Mark will always be a welcome guest at Raleigh Park in future. We wish him all the best.”

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