Pontypool start search for new coach
PONTYPOOL’S defining summer includes the hunt for a new head coach as well as a courtroom battle following the departure of James Chapron.
Pooler face a High Court showdown with the Welsh Rugby Union on June 25 that will determine whether they are playing Premiership or Championship rugby next season.
The Union plan to leave them out of a revamped 12-team top flight of club rugby but Pooler are challenging that decision.
They expect a reserved judgement in the first week of July but there will be a new man in the hotseat regardless of their fate after Chapron was forced to resign from his post.
The former hooker was promoted to position of WRU performance programme manager at the Dragons – basically heading the academy – at the start of the year.
That means he is unable to carry on coaching Pooler, just as his predecessor Will Thomas had to hand over the reins at Ebbw Vale.
Chapron’s situation was made slightly more awkward by his club taking his employers to court but his exit was on the cards long before the legal rumblings.
It brings to an end a successful spell in charge for Chapron, who took over from Gareth Lintern in December 2009 after first joining the club as a video analyst.
He helped steer them away from relegation in 2010 and they were not in trouble from the drop in either of his two full campaigns.
Successive 12th-placed finishes may not quite be reason to crack open the champagne but it represents quite a turnaround in fortunes.
Pooler are also preparing for life without Chapron’s assistant Shaun Connor, who has left the Dragons to take up a WRU role based at the Ospreys Academy, and owner Frank Stanton is meeting with the rest of the coaching team this evening.
They still possess plenty of experience in the shape of forwards coach Wayne Jones, defence coach Mike Hook and team manager Shaun Rees.
“This has been in the offing since James’ promotion,” said Stanton. “I will have a meeting with the coaching team and we have got a number of options.
“One of the main features of James’ time with us is the improvement of the coaching structure and we still have quality staff in place.
“But Pontypool’s loss will certainly be the region’s gain – the academy couldn’t be in safer hands.
“James doesn’t necessarily say a lot but when he talks players and coaches take notice of what he says.
“Under him we had one of our best seasons for a long time and we look forward to working with him in his role with the academy.”
Meanwhile, Pooler continue to beaver away in the recruitment market despite the uncertainty of which league they will be in.
The senior members of their squad have been kept in the loop in terms of the legal battle and talks are continuing with potential new signings.