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Pic: Clare Finch

Coventry Rugby has today confirmed the names of the players who are leaving the club this summer.

The RFU’s unilateral decision to end the 2019/20 season, cuts in central funding and ongoing effect of the coronavirus pandemic have been widely reported, as has the resultant impact on playing squads throughout professional rugby.

Executive Chairman Jon Sharp, Managing Director Nick Johnston and Director of Rugby Rowland Winter have all spoken of the necessities of reducing the numbers within the playing group at Butts Park Arena, and the list of names is greater than it would otherwise have been in a normal year.

James Gibbons (Ealing Trailfinders), Scott Russell, Will Flinn (both Hartpury), Heath Stevens (retiring to become Defence Coach at Cambridge), David Halaifonua (London Scottish), Ben Adams (Cambridge) and David Langley (Birmingham Moseley) have all been announced by their new clubs.

Other players to be leaving at the end of July are Gerard Ellis, Scott Tolmie, Darren Dawidiuk, Gareth Denman, James Voss, George Oram, Jack Ram, Luke Wallace, Tom Kessell and Max Trimble.

Junior Bulumakau is out of contract, but the club continues to work with the winger while he rehabs from his long-term knee injury.

Winter says that it has been difficult to have so many players leave.

“We had developed the squad to have significant depth within the senior group and lots of exciting talent within the Development squad,” he said.

“In a normal year our player turnover would be relatively low, but this is not a normal year and like every club we are having to manage our way through a very challenging situation.

“The players who are leaving have made significant impacts during their time at Coventry Rugby and I’d like to thank all of them for their contributions and efforts.

“While we now have a smaller group of senior players, we also now have a great opportunity and a clear pathway for our talented younger players, many of who are home grown.

“We are really pleased that the majority of our best players have committed to the club and we’re excited by the additions we have already made to create a squad more than capable of building on last season’s progression.

“When we are able to we will complete our recruitment process, but for now it’s important to thank those players who are moving on and wish them all the very best for the future.”

The financial impact of the past few months has also brought a number of redundancies in the commercial and administrative side of the club, with Toby Costar (Head of Commercial Operations) and Emma Perrett (Bar Manager) both leaving at the end of July and Dyan Hewett (Conference and Events Manager) taking voluntary redundancy.

Johnston added his thanks for their efforts.

“It has not been an easy decision to make and the redundancies have been done only as a last resort,” he said. “Toby, Emma and Dy have been fantastic people to work with and they have helped to make Coventry Rugby one of the leading operations within the Championship. It is certainly hard to see good people leave the business.

“However, the reality has been stark and in order for us to move forwards we had to make cutbacks in the commercial and administrative staff as well as on the playing side of the club.

“We are starting to come out of the other end of the pandemic and I believe that Cov has a bright future, but we’ve got a long path ahead of us and it’s going to take a lot of hard work from the remaining staff to help us get to where we want to be.”