CHARD Rugby Club has announced that Jon Hendy has taken over as director of rugby, succeeding Luke Aplin in the role.

Aplin has served as vice-chairman and director of rugby over the past two years, but now wants to focus on the playing side of the game.

Club chairman John Williams, in announcing the changeover, said: “I have only been chairman for two years but in that period I can honestly say that Luke has been a major influence on me personally.

“His enthusiasm, honesty, ideas, loyalty and love for the club are quite remarkable.

“Thanks from all of us Luke - your input has been, and will continue to be, invaluable.

“I know that Jon will be well suited to the job and will not only bring his experience, dedication and driving force to the club, but his ‘never say die’ attitude will push the club even further on its onwards and upwards trajectory.”

Chard head coach Ben Thomas added: “A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes at the club and I would like to thank Luke for such a great job he has done as DoR and making my first season so enjoyable.

“I totally understand the decision he has made to focus on playing and pleased he is staying involved at the club.

“Jon Hendy is the best replacement for the DoR job.

“He is a great club man and does a lot of work for the club which is unseen but doesn’t go unnoticed, and I for one really appreciate all the work he does.

“I’m really pleased he has decided to take the role and delighted that he’s staying on as the forwards coach.”

Aplin said: “It’s been a big learning curve taking on the DoR role.

“John Williams has been invaluable to me as chairman; we’ve had a lot of struggles but we’ve negotiated around them one way or another.

“At the beginning of the 2019/20 season we hit the ground running signing two quality coaches in Ben Thomas (head coach) and Jon Hendy (forwards coach).

“Training has been a real breath of fresh air ever since, with great organisation and really productive sessions put together every week.

“This progress has encouraged greater numbers of players to attend week in, week out throughout the season.

“Realistically, I was just a stop-gap in the position of DoR until we could get the club back on its feet and I could get back playing again, after what felt like a lifetime out due to injury.

“With the ship now steadied, a belter of a season under our belts, and a great committee in place, I want to concentrate on and make the most of the rest of my playing years.

“Thanks to everyone who’s helped me; I have full confidence in Jon to take the club forward as our new DoR and we’ll work closely for the next year to make the handover as seamless as possible.”

Hendy said: “I feel very privileged to be asked to take on the director of rugby role and am fully aware that I have big boots to fill with Luke handing over the reins.

“The commitment and attitude he has shown is something that I admire and hope to continue.

“After some difficult times, last season was a massive stride forward in the re-building process and with Ben Thomas and John Williams continuing in their roles I feel we are well placed to push on again.

“Personally, I still plan to coach the forwards and dust off the boots when required, but my main priority will be to build on the great work everyone has contributed in the past.

“I hope the support continues from all involved in the club and I can’t wait to get started.”