A TURBULENT week for Birmingham Solihull Rugby Club has ended with the departure of director of rugby Russell Earnshaw, the expected end of their groundshare with Solihull Moors and their relegation to the fourth tier of English rugby, National League 2 North, writes Ross Crawford.
Ealing Trailfinders delivered the final blow in a humiliating 42-5 defeat which put the final seal on an era when Bees tried hard to fly high but could never escape the financial consequences of the failure to develop their Sharmans Cross Road ground.
Instead for next season their rugby will be played out at the Portway by junction 3 of the M42 with assistant coach Eugene Martin pulling the strings.
Despite the crash at the end of the rollercoaster ride, Earnshaw, believes the club has a bright future.
“It’s already a hub for us - the minis and juniors already play at the Portway, the Colts have had a fantastic season there and we’ve got a chance to look at a second team for next year,” said Earnshaw, who will take on a scouting role for the club and make himself available for selection, aches and pains permitting.
Earnshaw cited work commitments - he’s already an England Sevens coach - as the main reason for quitting the top job and there is little doubt that the man has put massive amounts of energy into the Bees.
“I was doing two jobs and it was getting impossible to manage,” said the 37-year-old who also has a young family. “I had to make a decision one way or another and this offers a chance for someone else to take it up.”
That someone is Eugene Martin, Earnshaw’s Kiwi sidekick who has already shown himself to be a master motivator and tactitian.
It’s also plain that the club has had to trim its budget to suit its new circumstances and with the ground requirements less stringent in NL2, a move to the Portway made sense.
As for Earnshaw he’ll be taking many happy memories with him.
“We’ve had some great times - the ‘Great Escape’ in the championship was fantastic but I think my best memory is of Bristol away in 2010 when we played absolutely perfect rugby,” (Bees won 35-33 after a superb touchline conversion by fly half Mark Woodrow).