HEAD coach Rowland Phillips believes London Welsh’s nightmare campaign will make some of the players stronger individuals.

The Exiles managed to break a host of Aviva Premiership records this season – but for all the wrong reasons.

Welsh waved goodbye to English rugby’s top-flight with a 68-17 home defeat at the hands of title hopefuls Saracens at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium on Saturday, finishing as officially the worst side in Premiership history.

The loss saw them concede more than 1,000 league points, collect just one bonus point and fail to win once over the course of 32 competitive matches.

But despite a miserable season in which the Oxford-based club failed to avoid defeat once, Phillips tried to be as upbeat as possible.

“For all the players involved, it’s been a very tough season,” he said.

“But it will serve them well for the future.”

Although 14 players have already been signed up for Welsh’s Greene King IPA Championship campaign next season, several have secured moves elsewhere.

Phillips said it will be with sadness that he will say goodbye to players he has coached since arriving at the club in November, initially as defence coach, before taking on the responsibility for the whole side in March.

He said: “There’s players leaving and players retiring, coaches going and other people going, so it’s a real sad time.

“Yes, I think the timing is right and it’s good to finish the season, but it’s tinged with a lot of sadness because you lose a lot of people you’ve worked hard with and they’re friends.”

One of those is team captain Tom May, whose distinguished 16-year career came to an end with his 247th Premiership appearance.

Phillips paid tribute to the departing former England international after the match, saying: “His contribution to rugby in general has been outstanding.

“To be able to play that many Premiership games has been an outstanding feat, as you’ve seen.

“My experience with him, having worked with him this season only, is that he’s an outstanding professional, not only as a role model on the field and in training, but also off the field, representing the club.”