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Farewell to Merlin O'Donnell

By Stuart Howkins

We say goodbye to Director of Rugby and Senior Head coach Merlin O’Donnell

For those at the club that aren’t aware, we say goodbye to Director of Rugby and Senior Head coach Merlin O’Donnell, with his last official club duties at the end of season players awards dinner next Friday.

Merlin has been a part of the club for four seasons, starting as an assistant coach to our senior teams and finishing in his current position as Director of Rugby and Senior Head Coach. It was clear to see that Merlin had big ambitions to make his mark at Vandals and he definitely did this. This season has seen the senior teams have one of the most successful seasons in Vandals history, with the 1st XV and 2nd XV both gained promotion and the 1st XV winning the Surrey cup for the first time in the clubs history.

Merlin’s legacy will not solely be with our seniors but also our juniors rugby section. With Merlin’s guidance we now have a structure in place to transition Minis and Juniors through to Colts, U21’s and Senior rugby which is the envy of many clubs in Surrey. This is helping to lay the foundations for future successes at the club.

On behalf of the clubs members, players and the committee we wish Merlin all the best in the next chapter in his coaching journey, we are confident he will continue to have a big impact wherever his next rugby post will be. As we say to all departing members past and present, once a vandal always a vandal and the door will always be left open to come back in the future.

Please read below a short statement from Merlin to the club members,

Thank you to everyone at Weybridge Vandals for making my time at the club so fulfilling and despite the challenges we have faced, I will look back at my time at the club with fond memories. I would also like to acknowledge Aidan Turns for bringing me to Weybridge Vandals which provided the opportunity to develop as a coach under his mentorship and keeping me in the game after a significant injury.

I would also like to thank the Rugby Committee for giving me the opportunity to lead this great club and put in place the foundations for the future which have already started to bear fruit with the successes of the senior section this season and the first Colts group to transition into adult rugby for 5 years, forming our very first U21 side. There is now a clear Player Pathway to adult rugby and a Colts Programme that will get stronger each season, feeding into the senior section and keeping young men in the game.

The club will need further support from its members in the coming years and I would urge anyone with a passion for the game to get involved in shaping the future of Weybridge Vandals.

Lastly, I would like to give a special thanks to all of the players I have coached across the age groups in my four seasons at Vandals and it has been an absolute privilege to see these guys develop their game, overcome challenges and grow as people. You guys have been the reason why I have loved my time at the club so much!

Updated 20:43 - 17 Jun 2019 by Stuart Howkins

Where next?

Vandals Appoint New Head Coach Vandals Rugby committee is delighted to announce the appointment of Chris Dodd as Head Coach for 2019-20 season.
WEYBRIDGE VANDALS RFC – AGM 2019 Save the date - Tuesday 18th June 2018 at 7.30pm.

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