Gavin Hogg says it was not the thought of getting Bury St Edmunds promoted to National League One being too tall of a task that saw him announce he will be leaving at the end of the season.
After accepting the top coaching job at Hertfordshire outfit Old Albanians, who went up to the third tier of English rugby after winning Bury’s National Two South Division last season, Hogg is confident he will not be saying a final goodbye to the Greene King IPA Haberden in his last game in charge of Bury there in a week’s time.
Sunday evening’s club announcement that Bury’s director of rugby will leave after six of the greatest years in their history — having masterminded two promotions in three seasons to elevate the Wolfpack to their highest ever level — will have come as a shock to supporters.
But Hogg, still only 35, has revealed hushed discussions with club supremo Terry Sands first began at the end of last year and led to a tough decision.
“I have been at the club for six years and it has been a massive part of mine and my families’ lives and I am fortunate I have been able to share a lot of successes.
“There is still a project going on at the club and there was always a temptation to stay on another season to try and take them up to the next level and finish things up for the club and me as well.
“Old Albanians is an opportunity that allows me to take the next progression in my career now, though.”
Asked what drew him to it, he said: “A couple of things: probably the style of rugby which I was familiar with from their time in National Two last season when they were promoted, and is very similar to how I coach my players to play and the structure they have in place there, similar to Bury, gives a platform on which to build on.
“And there is the link with Sarries (Saracens) and training on their site. It will allow me to continue my development as a coach by seeing the day-to-day running of a professional club with the chance to coach boys that can go on to play in their academy sides and get a foot in the door of a top Premiership club’s coaching set-up.”
Asked about which of his six seasons he would pick out as his most rewarding, it was the unbeaten campaign of 2012/13.
“The one that sticks out for me is the promotion out of London One,” he said.
Bury had gone into the fixture on March 23 with Chingford knowing a win would send them into the National League for the first time in their 88-year history.
But with Suffolk waking up to a blanket of snow and further blizzards forecast, it looked like getting the game on was a dead cause.
“Everything that day epitomised what this club is about,” Hogg fondly recalled.
“When I arrived 10-12 people were there with brooms to make sure it went ahead.
“Even during the game people were running on sweeping the lines on the pitch.”
What followed was a 79-0 romp to promotion with four games to play.
Hogg, who ensured Bury’s survival in their second season in English rugby’s fourth tier before allowing his future plans to be announced, added: “From a personal point-of-view I first arrived at the club as a player and head coach (after guiding Stowmarket to promotion to London League 3NE) and am leaving as a director of rugby and that is testament to the amount of time Bury have put into my development.”
* After the four-match unbeaten streak that preserved their status for another season, Bury’s run was abruptly halted on Saturday at Old Elthamians.
The hosts were too strong, opening up a 33-0 half-time lead before seeing out the game 47-12.
Bury, whose second-half tries in London were scored by Darren Gillespie and Chris Snelling, are without a fixture this weekend.