THE senior coach at Henley Hawks has stepped down due to work commitments with the Royal Air Force.

Tom Gardner has overseen two narrowly failed promotion attempts to National1 during his time with the side.

He told the Hawks website: “Playing for the club was always intermittent due to my employment within the RAF, however the club always appreciated that my profession came first, which sadly is once again the case.

“Unfortunately I will be stepping back from my current commitments at Henley RFC.

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“I would also like to thank all of those who I’ve worked with over the years both as a player and a coach, including former Hawks head coach, Pete Davies, and more recently head coach, Luke Allen.

“Learning from each other, having the same goals, whilst also having our own unique qualities that complement each other.

“Special mentions must go to Andy Jones, Al Awcock, Tommy Haynes, Aubrey Doran, the Friday club and most importantly Nige [Nigel Dudding, director of rugby] who has put massive faith and trust into a young and ambitious coaching team.”

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John Lacey has been brought into the fold to replace Gardner.

He said: “I’m really excited to be given the opportunity to join the club and it is a great chance to step up into the national leagues.

“Having spoken with Luke [Allen] and Nigel about the club’s ambitions, I can’t wait to get started with pre-season.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the players and working with them towards a successful season.”

Lacey is a former academy manager at Ealing Trailfinders.