Head coach Gareth Richards explains reasons for Portsmouth Rugby Club exit following final-day defeat to Andover

Gareth Richards has called time on his tenure as Portsmouth RFC head coach.

Gareth Richards has left his role as Portsmouth RFC head coach Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-384)
Gareth Richards has left his role as Portsmouth RFC head coach Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-384)

Portsmouth's final day 26-7 London South West defeat to Andover at Rugby Camp would prove to be his last in charge of the club.

Departing Richards, who replaced Neil McRoberts as head coach in March 2020, cited increased work commitments as a critical factor behind his decision.

But the 37-year-old who holds a position as director of sport at Romsey-based Embley School also felt his level of sacrifice was not necessarily being matched by the whole of the playing squad, with Portsmouth ending the season 10th in the table having collected five wins from 22 matches across the campaign.

Gareth Richards spent 11 years with Portsmouth RFC as a player, coach and head coach Picture: Mick Young

Richards said: ‘In all honesty, you make peace with yourself about the sacrifice you make if you're going to be involved in something like this.

‘As I've mentioned (previously) I didn't necessarily feel that level of effort was being reciprocated in all areas of the playing group.

‘There are lots of boys who have been there every Tuesday, Thursday and every Saturday but unfortunately not enough for us to have been as competitive as we'd like.’

Richards' departure brings an end to his his 11-year association to the club where he first arrived as a player in 2011.

He joined McRoberts' backroom team as backs coach in the 2018-19 season prior to taking on the head coach position just over two years ago.

And despite admitting his disappointment with how things panned out over the course of this campaign, Richards insisted his time at the club is a period he'll look back on with great fondness.

He added: ‘There's no shying away from the fact it's been a really disappointing season in terms of league position. We have struggled and that's reflective of where we've ended up in the league.

‘I couldn't speak more fondly of the club, I've had a brilliant time both playing and coaching, unfortunately the coaching side of things have not quite gone as I'd have hoped.

‘I've made a decision around trying to balance my family time more evenly with other commitments.’