Diss' star man heads for exit
Despite admitting that losing Steve Hipwell’s services is a ‘big blow’, Diss RFC head coach Dave Smith has challenged other players to step up to fill the void.
Powerful number eight Hipwell was the driving force behind Diss’ promotion campaign of 2016/17 and their subsequent survival last term.
However, he has now been persuaded to rejoin Cambridge – the club he helped move up to National League Division One in 2016.
Smith said: “It is a big blow to lose somebody like Steve but he has made his decision and we wish him nothing but the best.
“He is a very good player, everybody knows that, so it is no surprise a side at a higher level was keen to sign him.
“This sort of thing happens all the time in rugby so we have to move on, and we will.
“As one door closes, it opens another and now there is a chance for somebody to stake their claim.
“It is a really good opportunity for people to push each other.
“Steve was fantastic for us, but we survived before he arrived and we will carry on without him as well.”
Thirty-four-year-old Hipwell is from Diss and, as such, Cambridge head coach Richie Williams revealed to the Cambridge Independent – our sister paper – that he took some persuading to make the move.
“I think the principal reason he left in the first place was to be closer to home,” said Williams.
“He’s got quite a high pressured job and I think he was just struggling with the commute back and forth to Cambridge three times a week.
“He is a very physical, very confrontational No 8 and it’s probably something we missed last year in parts of our game.”
In terms of potential incomings at Diss for the 2018/19 season, Smith has revealed that the club has been working hard behind the scenes.
While he is keen to recruit some of the better players from the local area, the club is planning to spread its net far and wide.
“You need a big squad to play at this level because there is also unavailability or injuries,” he added.
“We like to sign local players, but also players from overseas.
“We are always looking to improve and if the right player or players become available from overseas we will look to do a deal.
“I think we ended up using around 50 players last season, so do not be surprised to see a few new faces come in.”