Successful rugby coach Cameron Blades has stepped aside as first grade coach of Southern Districts after winning Australian Rugby appointment as forwards coach of the Australian Under 20s World Cup side.
The loss of Blades, the former Australian representative forward who also coached Combined Country last season, will certainly be felt.
In the past two years he coached the first grade side to its maiden grand final (losing by a point to Sydney University in 2012) and this year, the team made the preliminary final.
In 2010 alongside coach Darren Bray — now the club’s operations manager — the team reached the preliminary final after winning a record 11 straight games.
In 2011 the reserve grade team won the premiership with Blades assisting the forwards and the coaching.
‘‘With his appointment as Australian under-21s forwards coach, and along with a young family and existing work commitments, Cameron feels he is unable to service all areas appropriately,’’ club president Neville Shooter said.
‘‘Much of our recent success can be attributed to Cameron leading a young and dynamic coaching side through a resurgence of Rebels Rugby.
‘‘During the four years, many of our players have risen through the ranks from club to state to national selection, including the likes of [Wallabies] Sitaleki Timani and Radeki Samo, as well as Ita Vaea, who each gained professional contracts, while Dan Palmer and Kane Douglas made their international debuts and up-and-comers Jed Holloway and Ben Volavola became Waratahs and professional players.’’
Matt Barr, Blades’ assistant, yesterday was named as new head coach.
■ The Australian women’s sevens team finished third in the recent Asia Pacific Championships in Shanghai, winning the plate final.
Three local players took part including Sutherland Shire’s Maddi Elliott — the former Cronulla beach sprint champion who captained the team for two games — as well as Kate Mullaly and Allana Ferguson.
‘‘All three have played for the Australian Oztag making them dual internationals,’’ said national women’s sevens coach Tim Walsh.