Bishop's Stortford RFC say goodbye to long-serving forward Jon George after friendly victory over Cambridge University
Long-serving forward Jon George was given the perfect send-off when he led Bishop's Stortford to a 15-14 win at Cambridge University.
The second row, who helped the club win two titles and promotions, is returning to Wales with his fiancee after eight years at Silver Leys.
George captained the side when they triumphed at Grange Road on Friday evening (June 4) thanks to Dan Cole's last-gasp penalty in their last friendly of this post-lockdown period.
And joint head coach Marcus Cattell wants his players to step up and take on the leadership role at which George was expert.
"It was a nice way to send Jon George on his way," said Cattell. "He led the boys out and captained the team.
"He'll be a big loss as he's a big character and leader within the group.
"He'll leave a big hole, but we've got to look forward and other lads have got to step up and take on the mantle."
George had been at Loughborough University with Sam Winter – now Stortford captain – and was recruited when the club needed to replace the departing Hamish Irving in 2013.
He made an immediate impact as he helped the club win the National League 3 London & South East title that same year before being part of the National League 2S championship-winning side in 2017.
On his final appearance on Friday evening, George saw Stortford go 12-0 up against Cambridge University thanks to tries from former Cambridge student Al Gliksten and Alex Gilham, one of which was converted by George Cullen.
The students, who are preparing for the rescheduled Varsity Match against Oxford on July 4, claimed an opportunist try and then scored again to go ahead, before Cole slotted over a penalty with the last kick of the game.
"We dominated possession and territory for probably 60 minutes of the game but were only 12-0 up," said Cattell.
"Some good scrambled defence from Cambridge and maybe a lack of patience from ourselves kept them in touch.
"After they got the two tries we needed to get the momentum back and we showed resilience not to lose our heads when we went behind.
"Winning tight games is a skill in itself and so it's all good learning for the boys."
The players now have a three-week break before returning for pre-season training on June 29 ahead of the 2021-22 National League 1 campaign.
Cattell and fellow head coach Tom Coleman have lined up three home pre-season friendlies, with Westcliff (Saturday August 14), Bury St Edmunds (Saturday August 21) and Hertford (Thursday August 26) all coming to Silver Leys.