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Former Bath, Newcastle and Northampton prop Andy Long to leave Bishop's Stortford director of rugby role at the end of the season

Andy Long is to leave his role as Bishop's Stortford director of rugby at the end of the season.

The former Bath, Newcastle and Northampton prop helped the then head coach Steve Pope lead Stortford to the National League 3 London & South East title in 2013 before taking the top job.

Long, who has two England caps, then guided the club to the National League 2S crown in 2017 as they achieved National League 1 status for the first time in their history.

Andy Long. Picture: Vikki Lince (31823970)
Andy Long. Picture: Vikki Lince (31823970)

Club president Mick Coleman said Long was leaving as he had "a few options he wants to pursue".

"He'll leave a big hole with us because he's been a fantastic coach for the club and we greatly appreciate everything he's done for us," said Coleman. "It will be a big loss.

"We've come on leaps and bounds since old gits like me were playing! We've had promotions and are now in National League 1, which is way beyond anything we ever imagined at our community club.

"We regularly have 10 players in our matchday 20 that have come through our youth system."

Long has already begun negotiations with players in terms of getting the squad ready for the next campaign and it is hoped those can continue.

Mick Coleman added the club would also like Long's young coaches Tom Coleman and Marcus Cattell to be part of the structure next term, with discussions set to take place in terms of the direction the club want to go in and Long's potential replacement.

Stortford are currently 12th in National League 1 with six games remaining, although there is a major doubt how the rest of the campaign will pan out following the competition's suspension due to the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement, chairman of the board of directors Richard Norden said: "Bishop’s Stortford Rugby Club wishes to announce that Andy Long will leave his role as director of rugby/head coach at the end of this season to pursue other opportunities. The club will shortly begin the process to appoint a successor.

"Bishop’s Stortford Rugby Club wishes to thank Andy for his considerable efforts on behalf of the club. Under his leadership and direction, BSRFC achieved promotion to National League 1 (level three) in April 2017.

"Our three campaigns to date in this highly competitive league have been exhilarating, compelling and challenging and, given the limited financial resources at his disposal, Andy has done a remarkable job and steered the team to almost certain safety this season.

"The club’s ambition for its 1st XV to play at the highest level we can sustain remains undiminished. Equally strong is our commitment to the model that has served us well to date, that of being a community-focused rugby club that is united from senior to mini sections and providing an environment within which young, local talent can achieve the majority of their rugby-playing dreams."

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