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Keighley Cougars claim sacked coach refused to sign players in astonishing statement

Keighley Cougars pride flags

Keighley Cougars have released a baffling statement, shortly after they announced they have parted company with head coach Matt Foster with immediate effect, despite being top of the league.

They have only lost one game this year, and sat top of the league – although Oldham RLFC are one point behind, with a game in hand.

The news was met with disappointment from many fans, which some pointing back to last season as a reason the decision should not have been made.

Following backlash to the decision, the club’s out-spoken co-owners, Ryan O’Neill and Kaue Garcia, released a new statement.

They started with the fact that they were “dismayed with the level of hostility received”, and then surprisingly, said that previous head coach Ryan Lovegrove, had been “causing levels of disruption behind the scenes that no employer would tolerate”, and that they wished this had been said at the time as he got a “free-pass”.

Keighley Cougars claim sacked coach refused to sign players in astonishing statement

Keighley Cougars celebrate a try

Credit: Imago Images

They continued, saying the same thing had happened again this time, and contradicted the original statement in which they suggested the decision was due to on-field performance.

The statement suggests that Matt Foster had disagreed with Director of Rugby, Jake Webster, on a number of recruitment decisions – “Jake agreed terms with other Championship players, which Matt refused to engage with, and the club lost out as a result”.

It named players such as Brandon Pickersgill, George Flanagan and Mitch Revell that the head coach didn’t want – and revealed that Jake Webster had gone over the head coach to the owners to receive permission to sign players anyway.

Jake Webster applauds the fans as he leaves the Keighley Cougars pitch

Credit: Imago Images

“Clearly things were not going well, so we held a meeting with Jake, Steve and Matt. We advised Matt that Jake was Director of Rugby and was to be respected and responsible for recruitment. Matt accepted he had not understood the roles fully, and that he would work more closely with Jake.”

However, the head coach and DOR didn’t improve their relationship, they say, with training schedules and other communication not provided.

Speaking on what happened after their draw to Rochdale on Sunday, they then detailed:

“After the game, Matt advised us that he could no longer work with Jake, and gave an ultimatum that either Jake goes or he goes.

“We spent the rest of the evening asking opinions from senior players and staff, the feedback was that training was poor, strategy was lacking, and that a change in head coach might be necessary.”

Now, the change has been made, and they are searching for a new head coach – and Jake Webster has taken the role on an interim basis.

The statement finished astonishingly, speaking directly to the club’s fans: “We hope you can consider what we have to deal with behind the scenes. If the fans want a club that is mid-table League One, then we can deliver that – it will be much less stressful and significantly less expensive.

“We personally want better. It’s time for you all to decide what you want for this club.”


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