By Richard Sykes
After 10 years at the helm Huddersfield RUFC’s director of rugby, Gareth Lewis, is stepping down from the post.
Lewis said: “All good things must come to an end and, after a very special journey, I will be finishing at the end of the season. As a Huddersfield lad I have been incredibly proud of leading my home town club.
“The special bonds and friendships I’ve built down the years with so many outstanding people will always be treasured and it is my aim to go out on the back of a strong finish to our season.”
When Huddersfield moved to Lockwood Park in 1997 Lewis was a member of the club’s Academy team. The talented and ambitious young flanker went on to play rugby in National 1 and the Championship with Leeds Tykes, Halifax, Harrogate and Manchester, returning to Huddersfield to complete his career in 2009.
In his time away from the club he made cup winning appearances at Twickenham with Halifax and Yorkshire Under 20s and on his return he was a member of the Huddersfield team that lifted the Yorkshire Cup in 2011.
He took on the coaching role in 2013, winning a National 3 championship in his first season in charge. Under his leadership the team has played eight seasons in National 2, with a second National 3 championship coming in 2017, their only other season out of it.
Many home grown players have played their part in the team’s most successful spell of league rugby, with local lads Nick Sharpe, Alex Battye and Lewis Bradley holding the captaincy for most of Lewis’ time as coach.
Huddersfield’s chair of rugby Paul Sharrock had nothing but praise for Lewis saying: “We would like to place on record our thanks for everything Gaz has achieved.
“Under his stewardship we have enjoyed great things, including the unbeaten National 3 North campaign in 2016-17. He has helped cement Huddersfield as a Level 4 team, earning a 4th place finish in 2018-2019, our highest ever league position.
He has been in charge for over 250 games which is a fantastic achievement.”
Lewis added: “Rugby is, without doubt, the greatest game on the planet and the personal accolades I’ve achieved within the game, such as playing for and coaching my county are huge honours. Being awarded the National 2 North coach of the year in 2018 was also a personal feather in the cap.
“The success I’ve had is very much down to the players I’ve had the privilege to coach. Too many to mention individually but truly wonderful human beings, selected on character, who have done me proud.
“I would like to express my thanks to all the coaches who have worked with me. Also the loyal supporters who have travelled up and down the country and helped make Lockwood Park such a tough place for our opponents. Thanks are also due to the club management that have supported me in building the various squads season on season.
“Finally, thank you to my family, dad, Harry and Olivia. I know we’ve sacrificed a lot but we’ve done it together. Their endless love and support and some serious ‘plate spinning’ has allowed me to follow my passion and hopefully make them proud.”
Lewis will take his time in his break away from the game to consider his future options. At the moment Huddersfield RUFC have no replacement in mind but will be giving the matter due consideration over the coming weeks.