Ring pays ultimate price for failure

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
West Hartlepool have parted company with their player-coach, Mark Ring, following last Saturday's heavy home defeat by Northampton, which consigned the North-east club to relegation. In the West Country yesterday, the news was happier as Gloucester announced their first important signing in the professional era: Philippe Saint-Andre, the former France captain and Montferrand wing.

After the decision to release Ring from his contract, which still has a year to run, the chairman, Andy Hindle, said: "I'm sorry the experiment with Mark Ring failed. He's an honourable man who worked hard and brought on a lot of our talented youngsters, but ultimately, a coach is judged by his results.

"However, we're determined to be up there with the best, and within the next few days, I hope to announce the signing of a world-class coach, who will take West back to the First Division."

Promoted along with Sale at the end of the 1993-94 campaign, West have endured three seasons which have brought them a paltry nine victories in 56 League One matches. Since promotion, West have dismissed three coaches. The Australian Barry Taylor was sacked just five months after his appointment, ending a controversial reign which saw the departure of the No 8 Dave Watson and the hooker Simon Mitchell to Harlequins. When the Yorkshireman Barry Forster failed to improve West's lot, the Welshman Ring was handed control in January 1996.

A series of injuries has prevented Ring, an outside-half or centre, from playing a full part on the field. Off it, his decision to recruit seven Welsh players, including West's captain, Kevin Moseley, and to dispense with the services of locally born players like Alan Brown has not been a success. Ring has now paid the inevitable price of failure.