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Former England Sevens manager Terry Sands explains his departure from Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club




Terry Sands has provided Suffolk News with a lengthy statement following his active service at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club ending after 17 years.

The former England Sevens team manager, who has also been chairman at Hadleigh Rugby Club, found his role heading up the Pro-am section (first and second XVs) was no longer required under a restructure implemented by new chairman Craig Germeney.

A 'one club ethos' will see the Pro-am name to the club's top sides removed with head coach Jacob Ford taking over Sands' recruitment role as well as Nick Wakley's duties as director of rugby.

The changes were announced to members via a club statement on August 20, which followed Wakley's departure going public at the end of July.

Head coach Jacob Ford (left) has taken over the roles performed by Pro-am chairman Terry Sands (right) following a club restructure Picture: Mecha Morton
Head coach Jacob Ford (left) has taken over the roles performed by Pro-am chairman Terry Sands (right) following a club restructure Picture: Mecha Morton

Sands was away with the Samurai Sevens team in Colarado, USA – who went on to win their first ever RugbyTown Sevens event – when the news of him stepping aside from his Bury duties were announced.

But on his return he has given Suffolk News his explanation of how it came about, revealed he had considered bowing out a few years ago and reflected on the achievements during his time at the club.

It reads: "After 17 years of involvement at Bury St Edmunds RUFC, my time has come to an end as the Club embarks on a new journey.

Terry Sands (right) has revealed he almost stepped aside prior to bringing in Nick Wakely (left) as head coach Picture: Mecha Morton
Terry Sands (right) has revealed he almost stepped aside prior to bringing in Nick Wakely (left) as head coach Picture: Mecha Morton

"With Craig Germeney recently being voted in as the club's chairman, he has great ambitions for both himself and the club, where he has firm hopes that the club will see Championship rugby during his time as chairman.

"Change is very often a good thing and with Nick Wakley moving on and the recent recruitment of Jacob Ford, initially as head coach. Craig could see an opportunity for a restructure that would set the scene for the future and to help him achieve his ambitions.

"Although I had held voluntary positions of consultant, director of rugby, performance director and Pro-am chairman during my 17 years, Craig and Jacob forged a swift relationship and between them felt the time was right for a restructure of the Pro-am section. All of these positions except for DOR becoming redundant and with Nick Wakley moving back to Wales, the position was handed to Jacob as part of Craig's restructure of the playing side.

"Having been tasked by former chairman Mike Robinson and being fortunate enough to work alongside him, after gaining promotion to the National Leagues we created a sustainable rugby model for the 1st and 2nd teams.

Terry Sands pictured on the touchline for Bury St Edmunds back in 2013, having joined the club in 2004 Picture: Mecha Morton
Terry Sands pictured on the touchline for Bury St Edmunds back in 2013, having joined the club in 2004 Picture: Mecha Morton

"It has been a wonderful journey with some wonderful people involved, where we also achieved significant success and built some firm foundations.

"I was also very proud and honoured to be awarded Life Membership eight years ago as a sign of my time, effort and commitment to the club which was a wonderful gesture.

"Signing affordable players of the quality needed to maintain National League status has not been easy over the years. The last two playing seasons particularly difficult with the 1st/2nd team budget needing to be cut significantly, and to achieve a top-six finish in 2019 was an achievement Nick (Wakley) and I took great pride from to help the club and its great membership be part of such a great achievement.

Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley
Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley

"The club has come a long way since I joined 17 years ago and my relationship with Mike Robinson flourished during this time.

"I had contemplated standing down two years ago when Mike stood down, but as I had recruited Nick (Wakley) I chose to stay on to work alongside him to build a sustainable team that could comfortably achieve top six status in National Division 2 South.

Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, with new signing Fin Creighton kicking points against his former club Picture: Mark Westley
Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, with new signing Fin Creighton kicking points against his former club Picture: Mark Westley

"With Craig now in place and with various other things happening at the club, the time was right for me to end a fantastic journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed."

Sands also made clear he believes he leaves the club's top teams in good hands to achieve the high expectations from within.

"Craig is a very wealthy and successful businessman and certainly has the financial clout to achieve the success he dreams of," the statement continued.

"He recognised the need for a restructure, which amongst other things will see him working virtually full time at the club; something that is very much needed when you have the goals and aspirations that he does.

Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley
Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley

"What Craig lacks in rugby knowledge he makes up for in commercial vision and what Jacob Ford, at just 23 years of age, lacks in commercial know-how he makes up for in determination as he utilises Bury St Edmunds RUFC as a part of his pathway to the top.

"Jacob also has his father Mike as his mentor and I have certainly seen some of Mike's strategies starting to come into play of late. I think Craig and Jacob will make a fantastic partnership as they are similar in many ways."

Sands was also keen to pay tribute to the influential figures he has worked alongside at the club.

"I have loved being part of this club, there have been some great people involved over the years such as Mike Robinson, Phil Torkington, Mike Hemingway, Andy Grey, Simon Lord, Andy Spetch and Nigel Birrell to name but a few and together we all played a massive part in the club's success and I have enjoyed working with all of them," the statement continued.

Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley
Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley

"All of these great people have stood down in recent years and now it is my turn.

"There is so much great potential and opportunity at this club and with change comes fresh ideas and energy.

"With Craig now on board as chairman the funding needed for his new higher goals and ambitions will be available to take the next steps.

"Bury St Edmunds RUFC now has its own Nigel Wray in the form of Craig Germeney, which creates a great opportunity for the club as it embarks on a new adventure with new ambitions."

Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley
Match action from Bury St Edmunds' pre-season ending home friendly with higher-league Cambridge on Saturday, which saw the visitors win 29-17 Picture: Mark Westley

It concludes by saying: "I have played my part and given my all over the last 17 years and now the time is right to hand over to the next generation. They have a thriving Minis, Juniors and Women’s section and I wish the club good fortune and success for the future."

The Woolfpack, who concluded their pre-season matches with a 29-17 home defeat to higher-league Cambridge at the weekend, open up their 2021/22 National League 2 South campaign with the visit of Canterbury on Saturday (3pm).

Read more: Woolfack announce five new signings

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