As we head into the last third of the season. Director of Rugby (DoR) at Sevenoaks Rugby Club, Roger McKerlie, has given notice that he will step down at the end of the 2019/20 season after seven years in charge of their rugby strategy.
“This has been an amazing journey,” said Roger, “but change is important for an individual and an organisation. I feel that I have done everything I set out to do all those years ago and the time is right to hand over the reins to the next generation of rugby leaders in our club. I will remain as DoR until the end of the season and that will be an emotional time, but for now my focus remains on supporting our superb Senior Head Coach, Adam Bowman, Academy Head Coach Paul Dawson, Head of Juniors Danny Jones and driving through a couple of big projects that, I am confident, will add to our talent pool for years to come.
“It has been an absolute privilege to have been the club’s first DoR. I know everyone will be excited by our plans for the future. For now I would like to thank all Club members for their support, and particular thanks go to my outstanding colleagues on the Committee. We have had some heated debates and the odd fall out but the last seven years have largely been characterised by drive, ambition, agreement and unity of purpose and I am proud to call these men my friends.”
Commenting jointly, Club President Mike Wooldridge and Chairman Trevor Nicholson said: “We thank Roger for his energy and skills in taking the DoR role to a new level. Many members will have fond memories of ‘the McKerlie years’ and the on field successes we have enjoyed. Only a handful of us however have witnessed and will fully appreciate just how driven and how committed Roger has been behind the scenes in this highly demanding DoR role. Roger leaves very big boots to fill, but if anyone is up to that task it’s Adam Bowman and Sevenoaks Rugby Club is delighted that Adam will become Director of Rugby, expanding his present role from Senior Head Coach.”
Bowman said: “First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Roger for all his support since I have been involved with the coaching set-up at Sevenoaks Rugby Club. Roger and I have worked closely together for a number of years and his sound counsel across many areas has provided me with great comfort and made my job much easier. I’m really excited to expand my role and increase my responsibilities at a club that means so much to me.”
McKerlie added: “When I was appointed as the club’s first DoR it was with the mandate to create and implement a unified and consistent playing strategy right across the club. I feel that we, as a team, have achieved that, albeit there is always a lot more to be done and our journey is far from complete and I am personally delighted that Adam has accepted the DoR role. There have been so many highlights for me but the biggest source of pride that I will reflect on is that we set out to create One Club and we have achieved that.
“Taking on the new DoR role came straight after leading my son’s age group for 10 years so I was as steeped in the junior ranks as I had been the seniors as a player for 12 years. It was important to create a culture where the 1st team captain was no more, or less, important than the under-6 players and, to a large extent this is now the case. My heart swells when I look at the numbers and diversity of the supporters who watch the 1s play at the Paddock – old and young, men and women, girls and boys, all united in their passion for the club.
Since Bowman’s appointment as Senior Head Coach in 2016, working closely with Roger, Adam has overseen the most successful on-field period in Oaks Senior rugby, with the 1st XV currently sitting in the top half of London South East Premier, having secured promotion last season by winning London 1 South; as well as the 2nd and 3rd XV winning their respective leagues.
Prior to his appointment, Adam assisted Danny Vaughan as Oaks gained promotion to London 1 South as well as coaching the Academy during its most successful period, taking two teams to National Cup Finals as well as winning the National Plate.
He added: “I’m really excited to expand my role and increase my responsibilities at a club that means so much to me. When I spoke to the Committee, I was clear that my day to day role of coaching with the Senior Squad was an ongoing essential – coaching on a Tuesday, Thursday and match-day Saturdays are what I get a real buzz out of and so I’m really pleased I will continue to do that alongside my new responsibilities.
“I feel it’s a natural progression for me and I hope, in the coming weeks, to sit down with all areas of the rugby playing side of the club and share my philosophy, but more importantly, listen to them and hear how I can help them in continuing to move the club forward. We are in a really positive time at Sevenoaks Rugby Club at the moment and I want to ensure that we continue to move forward.”
Mike Wooldridge, President and Trevor Nicholson, Chairman both expanded on this change by saying: “Adam’s responsibility for day to day coaching and management of the Senior Squad will continue, but his remit will be expanded to oversee all areas of the rugby playing side, including the medical, performance and strength & conditioning departments, as well as ensuring that Junior Rugby for Girls and Boys, from under-5’s upwards, shares an extensive playing curriculum that combines putting fun first with ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to be the best they can be.
“We are delighted that Adam has agreed to expand his current role and become the Club’s Director of Rugby. Adam has been one of the standout coaches in our local area and indeed one of the most impressive young coach’s in the country, so we are very reassured that he will have input and influence across all rugby matters moving forward. The Senior Squad is in great shape which is testament to the hard work of Adam and his coaching and medical staff and it feels the appropriate progression for all involved that Adam now takes on the work that Roger has overseen.”