OTLEY, relegated from National League Two North last season, will have a new head coach whenever their 2020/21 North Premier Division campaign starts.

Inside centre Kyle Dench, who has made 107 appearances for the Cross Greeners and has a background in PE teaching, has replaced Charlie Maunder, who has accepted an identical role at Yorkshire Division One club West Leeds.

Former Yorkshire cap Dench, 37, who will be a player-coach, will be supported by experienced director of rugby Peter Clegg.

The latter said: “I’m delighted that Denchy has accepted the position as head coach, he knows Otley well and will be a major force in leading us back into the national leagues.

"Most of you will already be acquainted with Kyle, having played with him this season, and l am looking forward to working with him again.

"Kyle’s passion, combined with his detailed approach to training and playing, are second to none and l can’t wait for the new season to get started.

"While never underestimating the opposition, our aim will be to win the league in style, scoring many tries and destroying whoever stands in our way.”

Meanwhile, Otley have announced that they hope to be taking on old rivals Wharfedale - lockdown loosening permitting - in a pre-season friendly at Cross Green on Saturday, August 22.

The derby, stymied by the cancellation of the 2020-21 season in mid-March, was due to be the last fixture of the National League Two North season the following month, again at Cross Green.

While that match will be eagerly anticipated in late summer, there is also good news off the pitch for Otley.

Their crowdfunding appeal, launched in early May with an original target of £10,000, has passed £20,000, buoyed by a £5,000 grant from Sport England.

The money will be used for maintenance and repair of pitch-maintenance equipment and the main pitch and training pitch, rugby balls (£100 each), repairs to the changing rooms, grandstand and terracing and additional safety measures required to allow for the impact of Covid19.

In addition, improvements will be made to the junior pitches and their training pitches, plus the installation of floodlights.

Otley had already obtained business rates relief and negotiated reduced monthly standing orders for utility bills in the spring, plus a delay to VAT payments.

In addition, the club qualified for a £25,000 business grant from Leeds City Council, while they also received £560 from the RFU.

Meanwhile, things are also progressing well on the club's proposed move to new headquarters near the scheduled East of Otley Relief Road.

Housebuilders Persimmon have told Otley RUFC that their planning application date of November 2020 is on track as is the decision date of spring 2021 for the relief road, which is the precursor to Otley moving to their new home in the summer of 2022.

The Cross Greeners have already been told that the road alignment and the access from the road into the new sports facilities have both been agreed, which are steps on the road to Otley RUFC starting the design development of their new clubhouse and grounds off Pool Road.

Maunder, who took over at Otley at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, played his junior rugby at Cross Green before featuring for Leicester Tigers, Leeds Tykes, Nottingham, Birmingham Solihull, Stockport and Bourneville and then becoming player-coach at Camp Hill and player-head coach at Tamworth.

He replaces Andy Neave at Blue Hill Lane, with Phil Christopher and John Cole also stepping down after Neave and Christopher helped the club rise from Yorkshire Division Three to North One East in 15 years, a period which also included two national cup wins.

Maunder, who will be helped by backs coach Gaz Stokes, said of his new challenge at West Leeds: "I am very happy to be joining as head coach and looking forward to the challenge ahead this coming season.

"This is a great opportunity to work with a strong group of lads and see what we can achieve together.

"From what I have seen already, there is some real talent in the squad and I am pleased to be linking up with Gaz Stokes, who has a lot of passion for the club, and I am confident we will build on previous years successes and make our own history."