It's all change at Newton Abbot
NEWTON Abbot face a rebuilding exercise during the close season as a clutch of players and one leading official are moving on.
Last Saturday's 22-20 defeat at Old Patesians was Newton Abbot's last game under the guidance of Phil Burford, who is calling it a day as director of rugby.
Burford has been associated with the All Whites for 10 years, first as coach them director of rugby for the past three seasons.
Roy Henderson, the former Exeter Chiefs team manager and Devon administrator, is expected to fill Burford's role next season.
Henderson joined Newton last Autumn in an assistant management role and has been learning his way around the club since then.
Also bowing out are player-coach Andy Birkett and prop Nick Hammond, while front-rower Lloyd Radford is expected to take up a sports scholarship at Hartpury College.
Long-serving utility back Neil Johns has been linked with a move to Teignmouth, although nothing has been signed or sealed yet.
For Burford it was a bitter-sweet afternoon as he reflected on a decade of change during his time at Rackerhayes.
Newton have climbed the league ladder from Western Counties to National Three South and are established as a top-half-of-the table side.
When Burford first coached Newton Abbot they had to beat Okehampton on the final day of the season to avoid dropping back into the Cornwall & Devon Division.
There have been many achievements, such as the promotions and the epic Devon Cup final win over Brixham at Astley Park in 2004.
It would have been nice for Burford, and home-grown players such as Hammond and Johns, to end the era with a win.
"It summed up our season really," said Burford. "We had the heart, we had the will to win, but we didn't make enough of our chances.
"Pats had fewer chances than us but put most of them away, we made too many mistakes.
"It was disappointing to finish on a loss, but I looked around the dressing room after the game and felt I was handing the playing side on to the new management in good shape.
"For me it has been a great 10 years and if anyone had told me at the start Newton would be where they are now I would not have believed them."
Newton and Pats traded tries tit-for-tat, ending with four each. Pats converted one of their tries whereas the All Whites missed every kick.
Newton's last day try scorers were Matt Newman, Johns and Baz Chapman.