Matty Douglas issues statement addressing Hawick departure

Former head coach expresses disappointment at the way the decision not to renew contract was handled

Matty Douglas was Hawick head coach from 2021 until stepping down with immediate effect today. Image: © Craig Watson -
Matty Douglas was Hawick head coach from 2021 until stepping down with immediate effect today. Image: © Craig Watson -

MATTY DOUGLAS has expressed his disappointment at the way the end of his tenure as head coach of Hawick RFC has been handled.

It was announced by the club just over a fortnight ago that neither Douglas nor forwards coach Lewis Bertram would have their contracts renewed after the end of the current season. Hawick’s Executive Committee stated at the time that they hoped the pair would choose to stay in post until the end of the campaign.

However, it was announced earlier today that Douglas and Bertram have both decided to leave their roles with immediate effect, and Douglas – who presided over the Mansfield Park club’s Premiership and Scottish double success last season – has now issued a written statement addressing the matter.

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Douglas said:

In consideration of the recent decision by Hawick RFC to not renew my contract for the 2024-25 season, and with there being so much speculation around this situation, I feel obliged to make a statement to clarify things from my perspective.

Over the past three seasons I have been the proud head coach of my hometown club. Taking this job at such a young age (26) after my early retirement from playing due to hip replacement surgery was a huge responsibility but one which I relished and loved every moment of.

I started out coaching Hawick in 2019 when I was given responsibility for defence under George Graham. I was asked to take on the head coach role in 2021 after 11 players left the club at the end of the previous season leaving Hawick in a very difficult place.

Since taking on the role of head coach, Hawick have made steady progress, culminating in a league and cup double in 2022-23 (for the first time in 21 years), and we find ourselves once again in a strong position to repeat that feat this year, with home advantage in both this Saturday’s Cup semi-final against Currie Chieftains and in the Premiership play-off final against the same opposition on 4th May.

I am proud of my role in helping the club to be in a position to secure an unprecedented back-to-back double, and I am grateful to the players who have had the discipline to work with me, who have understood my principles of defensive resilience and strong foundations, and who have grown to become a team of men who have the ability to achieve consistent performances that they themselves and our town can be proud of.

With all of the great success we have achieved during my time coaching Hawick, the statistic I am most proud of is our defensive record. We have been unbeaten at home since 2019, when I took on the defensive coaching duties at the club. Defence is not always viewed with the same positivity as flashy attacking play but my coaching philosophy is that it is the most important aspect of any successful team, and is therefore the fundamental foundation which you must build from.

With all of this being said, the decision by the club  to not renew my contract came as a complete surprise.

I’m a fairly realistic person and I was contemplating my own future as I am aware every coach has a lifespan with a team, and I had thought about the prospect of new challenges next season at a higher level. The fact that I was told that my contract would not be renewed without the club even enquiring about what I was planning on doing was extremely disappointing.

The club made a statement in line with their decision and at no point had asked if I was thinking about staying on next season. This lack of respect, unfortunately, left a sour taste in my mouth and that led to my decision to resign with immediate effect even though we are on the cusp of further success as a club.

I have found out recently that the decision by the club was made by the management team after they had conducted a confidential survey pre-Christmas of both the first and second teams without my knowledge.

I was subsequently told that the survey results meant my position would not be renewed without giving real specifics.

I was reminded recently by a coaching mentor that successful coaches are not always appreciated because achievement is often based on things people don’t like doing – hard-work, repetition and attention to detail. These are the things I pride myself on.

I have had huge support from the players, many club members and supporters, and as a lifelong Hawick man, I will continue to support my hometown club especially during this vital end of season period. I wish the club and the players nothing but the best and I hope that great success is achieved in the coming weeks. I will be quietly proud of my involvement in that, but it unfortunately won’t be as part of the group as I don’t see my position as being tenable given the circumstances.

As time has passed, I am less hurt about the way this has been handled and I see this as an opportunity to grow.

I look forward to the next challenge and am thankful for the opportunity to be head coach of The South over the past few weeks which has been a welcome distraction and a fresh challenge. I was once again lucky enough to have more success with The South winning the Inter-District Championship last weekend after winning all three of our matches.

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About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.