Sands breaks his silence

ENGLAND Sevens team manager Terry Sands has broken his silence over his departure from troubled Hadleigh.Sands, who is one of the most influential, and respected members of our rugby community, has told of how he had taken the club as far as he thought it could go, and said there was no animosity between the club and himself over his departure.

By Dave Carey

ENGLAND Sevens team manager Terry Sands has broken his silence over his departure from troubled Hadleigh.

Sands, who is one of the most influential, and respected members of our rugby community, has told of how he had taken the club as far as he thought it could go, and said there was no animosity between the club and himself over his departure.

Sands gave more than 20 years to the club, both on and off the pitch, and was instrumental in taking the club to the dizzy heights of London 2 North East. But in a shock decision, he handed in his notice at the end of the 2005/06 season.


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Sands said: “I had given everything I had - blood, sweat, and money - to a club that was, and to some extent still is, in my blood.

“Around this time my father was also taken ill, and his care, along with my responsibilities with England, meant that my time was becoming more and more precious. Something had to give, and in the end I felt that I had helped Hadleigh to a point where I felt that I couldn't take them any further, so it made sense for me to take a step back.

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“My intentions were simple, to give up my involvement with local rugby, and concentrate on looking after my father, while continuing my role with England.”

With this in mind, Terry left the club that he had made more than 500 appearances for, and turned his back on the Suffolk rugby scene to concentrate on his family.

However, several months later, a close friend, Quinton Hembry, a club sponsor who had followed Terry's exit from Layham Road, became disillusioned with the lack of progress being made by the club and contacted Sands with a proposition.

Sands said: “Quinton contacted me, saying that he still wanted to be involved in local rugby - he is quite the salesman, and feels very passionate about his support of grassroots sport. So we met, and he talked me into the whole thing.

“The next step was to look for a club that had the set-up and facilities, as well as overall potential, to become Suffolk's elite club. We soon chose Bury, as they seemed to share our vision for the future of local rugby.”

Sands began with little involvement at the Haberden, concentrating on player recruitment, including several overseas players. But despite reports of mass poaching from his old club, he is adamant that only four or five players followed him to the London Four North East club this season, and none were approached to do so.

He said: “After I had handed in my letter of resignation to Hadleigh committee, I was asked to clean up the player register before leaving, and this is where I believe the mix-up has come from, as there were a few players still registered at the club who had long moved on.”

As the season has progressed, so has Terry's role at Bury, and he has been able to use his list of contacts to bring top coaches such as RFU National Academy coach Mike Friday, and Owen Scrimgeour, the ex-New Zealand Sevens skipper, to the West Suffolk club. He is also pleased to report that his father is almost back to full health.

Regardless of what side of the fence you sit, there is no denying that Sands' presence at the Haberden has already had a massive impact, and the man certainly knows his rugby. Some will argue that rugby at its grassroots is just about taking part, the sport, the camaraderie, but Suffolk has definitely suffered over the years from not having a top club. Norfolk have North Walsham, Essex have Southend, and Barking, while Cambridgeshire - well, they have Cambridge, which puts us at the bottom of the pile. Players have nowhere to progress within Suffolk, and the standard is pretty much even across the county.

The links forged between clubs such as Ipswich and Northampton Saints are definitely good news for talented players, but is it good news for rugby union in Suffolk? Are these players just using our clubs as a stepping stone, before moving on to other counties?

If Suffolk had an elite club, and players had the motivation and desire to progress and move on to bigger and better clubs, this would have the effect of raising our game, and would no doubt raise the overall profile of rugby in Suffolk.

This is an important time for rugby in our county, and over the past few months, our clubs have stepped up to the mark, now all we need is the support to make that final push.

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