Chandler: Time to step aside at Portsmouth

Ian Chandler. Picture: Mick Young (112783-15)
Ian Chandler. Picture: Mick Young (112783-15)
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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It is all change at Portsmouth after long-serving head coach Ian Chandler resigned.

Chandler steered the city club to London two south west safety on the final day of the season but decided enough was enough.

The club have acted quickly to replace him with Ben Dudley, from National League Worthing Raiders.

Locks Heath Pumas coach Jim Pearce has stepped across to Rugby Camp to take the assistant coach role.

Portsmouth have been involved in a relegation battle for the last two seasons and Chandler insists the club needs a fresh approach.

He said: ‘I feel strongly that the club needs an injection of new blood and had made my mind up at Christmas to leave.

‘Since then I have been focused on keeping the club up and have to admit the last few games have taken a lot out of me.

‘I don’t feel that with home and work demands I can give the time required anymore.

‘Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday is a big commitment.

‘Now I will be able to reconsider what I want to do.’

Chandler has been a great servant to the club as both a player and a coach.

In his playing days he formed a highly-respected centre partnership with Steve Cameron.

They were uncompromising in defence and subscribed fully to the running, attacking rugby that Portsmouth were well known for.

As a coach Chandler proved equally effective.

He combined hard work with dedication to the Portsmouth cause.

He won’t totally be giving up rugby, as he plans to further his interest in being a coach mentor.

Last season he spent the year working alongside Brian Saunders at United Services Portsmouth developing his mentoring skills.

‘I feel I have a lot of coaching experience which hopefully can be passed onto others,’ said Chandler.

‘Coaching is hard work and can be a lonely process on occasions.

‘It can be demoralising and then it is useful to have someone you can turn to for support.

‘Brian Saunders is helping develop coach mentoring for the Rugby Football Union through Sports Coach Uk and I might be able to get involved.’

Portsmouth escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth with a bonus-point win at Old Alleynians.

Chandler is adamant the team underachieved but a succession of injuries to key players didn’t help.

Without those injuries Chandler insists Portsmouth could quite easily have been challenging at the top end of the league.

If they can have some better luck with injuries next season then the future could be bright for the team – they can take encouragement from some of their performances during the season.

Despite struggling they have at least managed to remain in the division and can look forward in positive mood.

Chandler believes the quality is there for the team to kick on.

‘The last couple of seasons have been a struggle at the club but we have proved we should be playing at the level we are at,’ he added.

‘There are some quality players at the club and there is no reason why they shouldn’t do well.’