Bedford Blues announce new forwards coach for 2024/25 season

Tom Cruse in Northampton Saints kit as Bedford Blues announce him as forwards coach for 2024/25
Tom Cruse joins after retiring as a player in April Image: Bedford Blues RFC

With one more Championship game to go, against Champions Ealing, Bedford Blues have begun preparations for next season already and have this morning (Thursday) announced their new forwards coach in time for the 2024/25 season.

Tom Cruse, 35, announced his retirement from playing professional rugby in April having spent the last 18 months at Northampton Saints following the demise of Wasps.

A nine-year Premiership career encompassed Wasps, Saints and London Irish and he will now bring his extensive experience to Goldington Road.

On announcing he was leaving Saints in April, Cruse said, “I have loved my time here at Saints, met some amazing people, and learned valuable lessons which will no doubt help me as I move into a new chapter.”

That new chapter is under Mike Rayer at Goldington Road.

It won’t be a completely new role for Cruse, who assisted at Chinnor alongside his playing role at Saints, with the Oxfordshire side due to face off against the Blues next season after winning 22 of 26 league games in National One to win promotion to the Championship.

Cruse also knows what it takes to grind out a route to the Premiership, having spent seven years in the lower leagues, including a stint in the Championship at Rotherham, before making his top flight debut for London Irish at the age of 25.

“It’s an exciting challenge”

Speaking ahead of next season, Cruse looks forward to what he describes as, “an exciting challenge”.

“It’s one I feel very privileged about, there’s a few familiar faces at the club – one of those being Michael Le Bourgeois from my time at Wasps”, said Cruse.

“It’s a really exciting challenge for me as I begin my coaching career, in a league that’s highly competitive. I’m a massive advocate of the Championship, it’s a great place to help talent grow, and I’m eager to put my stamp on things to aid that.”

“When I met Mike Rayer to talk about coming on board at Bedford, he spoke a lot about development; and that’s not just the players, but the coaches as well.

“This being my first full-time coaching role, it was important to find the right fit. I’ve done a lot of coaching already in my journey, but that was whilst still playing, and it was that chance of development that really stuck out for me.”

With fourth place guaranteed for Bedford Blues this season, there is just one league game remaining in the capital before the team look ahead to next season, with Cruse hoping it won’t be Mission Impossible in taking the next step towards a title challenge.