TOM Rance insists the future is bright at Stratford after taking charge of the club for the final time last Saturday.
The 33-year-old took over the director of rugby reins at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, having originally joined the Black and Whites as a player at the age of five.
In that time, he guided Stratford to their best ever league finish in 2016 when they finished third in Midlands 1 West.
While Rance was delighted with this achievement, he says he will take more satisfaction from the club’s overall development, where every section has flourished in recent years.
“I look back on my five years at the club and it’s been a really fun time,” said Rance, who now intends to take a break from the sport.
“What gives me the most satisfaction is how much the club has developed in all areas.
“The ladies’ section has grown so much, as has the colts, academy and we’ve now got more players going through the District and Midland system.
“Whether that’s down to us as coaching team or the club as a whole, it doesn’t really matter.
“I know the club will continue to grow, I have no doubt about that.”
After five years in charge, Rance felt it was time to stand down, saying the club would benefit from a having a new man at the club with new ideas.
“It was time to allow some new ideas to come into the club,” Rance added.
“Five years is a long time and I had only ever planned to do three.
“Ultimately, I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve and I believe it’s the right time for somebody else to step up.”
Rance was an extremely well regarded figure in the Stratford dressing room and his skipper, Jo Cook, feels his popularity was down to his sheer determination to succeed.
“Tom had created an outstanding environment for amateur rugby players to enjoy playing rugby,” said Cook.
“By providing first-class injury management and some unbelievably experienced coaches, people were willing to sacrifice personal commitments for the group and for him.
“Success has centred on effort and attitude, something Tom has demonstrated by the bucketload.”
The club are expected to name their new director of rugby over the coming weeks.
Rance’s final game in charge failed to provide the fairytale ending he’d have hoped for, as they crashed to a 52-12 defeat to South West 1 East high flyers Chippenham at Pearcecroft.
Jo Cook and Callum Cook went over for scores, but the visitors were too strong, scoring eight tries to seal an emphatic victory.