Big change is coming at Fylde Rugby Club. Evan Stewart, who plays in the back row, is moving forty miles away to Lancaster. He made 134 appearances since joining the Blackpool side in 2011, scoring 61 tries. He will continue to assume a player-coach role with the Vale of Lune club.
Another factor behind the decision to move was his young family.
Also stating his intention to leave the Woodlands Memorial Ground club is head coach Paul Arnold. The lock, who will leave at the end of the season, joined Fylde in the 2010-11 season from the Caldy Rugby Football Club, situated in Merseyside. In his final season with the Wirral side he scored a league high 27 tries.
He has since scored 55 tries in 170 appearances, and took over as the head coach at the end of the 2014-15 season. He has been a player-coach for the last two years.
Since he replaced Mark Nelson, who stood down, Fylde have been promoted and cemented their place in National League One, which is the third tier of English rugby. This season they are once again assured of safety.
Arnold said: “There are a number of reasons for my decision but, essentially, the time is right to move on and spend some time with my young family and look for a new challenge.”
The 18 stone forward, along with fellow player-coach Warren Spragg is popular with the players and it will be no easy thing to replace him.
Fylde chairman Dave Young said: “Paul’s decision to relinquish the head coach role has surprised us. However, we understand his reasons and thank him for the immense contribution he has made as both player and coach since 2010.”
However those are not the only changes happening at the rugby club, with Young becoming club chairman whilst Roger Banks has been appointed the new chairman of rugby.
Banks’ first job will be to assess the coaching situation and bring someone new in. The second rower, who has played cricket for St. Annes, retired from playing three years ago. Now 36, he has been involved with rugby in one form or another since he was a teenager.
How will the changes affect the club? The previous three seasons they have finished 3rd, 4th and 10th. This season they are safe from relegation. Will the shake-up see them rise up the table?