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Damian Neill to step down as Malta rugby coach in June after 18 years in charge

Daman Neill to step down as Malta rugby coach. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Malta rugby union national team coach Damian Neill has announced that he will be stepping down from his post at the end of the 2023 GSSE.

The Welsh coach has been the catalyst behind the strong development of rugby in Malta helping the national teams to climb the International Rugby Board rankings over the years and leading the side to memorable victories over much bigger countries.

In a statement on his social media, Neill announced that this month’s Conference 1 South clash against Cyprus will be his last in charge of the 15s national team.

“I’m deeply grateful as the final whistle soon blows on my time as the National Coach of Malta,” Neill said in a statement.

“We play Cyprus at home on the 25 March 2023 as my last home game in charge of the 15s National Squad.

“I decided the time was right for me in May 2022 and agreed to continue my post to the end of the Games of The Small States of Europe in June 2023 to support the Union and Robert in his new post as president.

“Rugby has been part of my DNA since my dad bought me my first leather rugby ball (yes, leather). I remember the many tellings off for leaving the ball out in the rain after playing for Wales in that back garden, haha.

“From my first rugby session in school at eight years of age, playing for the U11s in Nantyffyllon primary school.”

Neill described his 18-year journey as Malta national team coach as an incredible experience.

“It’s been an incredible journey leading to eighteen years of service with Malta Rugby; blessed to have met and made so many friends and experienced unforgettable memories,” Neill said.

“I never even thought of it as a job. It’s always been way more than that, it’s difficult to explain, but it has meant the World to me and will always have a place in my heart.

“After one hundred International events, seeing friendships, marriages, and even future generations come together through this shared experience has been amazing and a privilege.

“There are so many people to thank, and where do I start?

“To the players and coaches who are my extended family, many have been with me since the start, almost like my sons and daughters. I love you, and thank you.

“To the community and supporters, the unsung heroes who do the unseen work and have been with us throughout this adventure. You will never know how much I appreciate you and all you have done. Thank You

“Ultimately my deepest and sincere thank you goes to my family, who have invested in me, and my dream through the highs and the lows. Putting up with me never switching off thinking about helping others find their best. It’s a debt I will never be able to repay. Love you to the max, and thank you.

“Much has been accomplished, such as winning Rugby Europe Conferences at 15s, placing within the Top 19 Rugby Europe rankings and winning Rugby Europe conferences in 7s, both male and female.

“Certifying over seven hundred students, teachers, coaches, conditioners, and officials.

“Created a school of rugby and an academy with over 100,000 children touching a rugby ball.

“Twenty-six teams, from youth to senior males and females, played rugby at Marsa. The landscape has changed, yet the possibilities have not.

“Here’s to; loving the game, enriching the jersey and playing with passion

“Thank you for the magical memories, friendships, commitment and work ethic.”

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