Rugby Union

Army Rugby Union pays tribute to outgoing head coach

Army Rugby Union has paid tribute to outgoing senior team head coach Captain Mal Roberts, who has decided to step down from his role

Capt Roberts, who became head coach in 2020, saw the start of his time in the role thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic, but this year he led the Army senior side to Inter Services success

Following the announcement of his departure, his Army rugby colleagues have paid tribute to the player-turned-coach who excelled on and off the pitch. 

Chris Fowke, Chief Operations Officer of Army Rugby Union, said that what Capt Roberts has been able to achieve is "quite unique". 

He said: "When you look back and actually take in what Mal's done over his time, not only as a player but as a coach as well, I think you will find that it is quite unique in what he has done.

"I don't think there is anybody else in Rugby Union that has surpassed it.

"His caps, his coaching credentials and all of those things that you take into it, the times that he has spent not just as a coach, but also as a player.

"He captained the Army side for several years and I think to be able to hold the trophy not only as a skipper, but then in later years, to then bring that back as a coach, I think that's a very special thing," he added.

The task to find a replacement for Capt Roberts is now under way. Being head coach is a high-profile position that comes with huge personal sacrifice, particularly when it serves as a secondary duty within the Army. 

Fowke added: "It normally occurs that a person who is the head coach is normally a late entry officer and those late entry officers have particularly taxing jobs to do in their normal day-to-day environment.

"So Mal has come in, done that for several years, and he started with the Under-23s and has worked his way up and he has got to be commended for the time and the effort he has really put into it."

The appointment of the new head coach for the Army senior side is looking to be announced in the coming weeks.