Chris Downes will be taking up the Head Coach’s role and Ben Smith will join as Senior Coach next season.
Downes, the former Pats and Ebbw Vale man, capped for England Schoolboys, has long been Director of Rugby at the University of Gloucestershire and the County. He will retain both roles. Smith, the RFU’s Community Rugby Coach (CRC) for Gloucestershire, has worked with Downes at the University and the pair offer an established, successful coaching partnership.
Downes said: “It’s great to be back at the Pats, I’ve loved this club since I began playing here as a boy, had my happiest memories in the magenta, blue and white and I finished my playing career at the bottom of the slope at Everest Road. To be appointed Head Coach is an honour for me and I hope I can bring the success I know the club deserves.”
Old Pats are currently bottom of the South West Premier League having had as many as 29 of their registered playing squad unavailable for selection at times since Christmas. Survival is still possible with five matches remaining and the current coaches will continue for all of them.
Smith added: “Pats have always been one of the leading clubs in the county and the brand of rugby they play is great. The injured players are now coming back to fitness and with a good summer ahead of us, things look good for the 2019-20 campaign.
Matt Cape, OPRFC Chair, said “We’re delighted to have secured these two talented young coaches for the Pats. They’ve worked together to great success at the University and they’re very well established figures at county level and beyond. It’s also really nice that a lad, who played for the juniors, played for his country, our 1st XV and higher, then returns to coach the club.”