After a fine finish to the shortened Greene King IPA Championship, Bedford Blues have begun preparations for the new season, with notable departures across the board.
Long serving forward Will Carrick-Smith and scrum half James Lennon have both left Goldington Road, the former racking up 111 appearances since joining in the 2016-17 season.
23-year old Lennon – a product of the Blues academy – scored 37 points in 42 appearances for the Blues but leaves in search of a regular first-team spot.
Lennon said, “I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable four years at Goldington Road, first in the academy set-up and then in the first-team environment. Thank you to the coaches, players and the Blues family.”
Carrick-Smith, who featured in every Championship fixture last season, ranks the semi-final appearance in the British and Irish Cup among his best achievements at Goldington Road.
“I absolutely loved my time at the club”, said Carrick-Smith. The fanbase [at] Bedford have make it a really special place to ply your trade and finishing on a high with victory in the Battle of Bedfordshire was the perfect way to sign off.”
Elsewhere in the forward line, Oli Curry has announced his decision to retire from rugby, with the 25-year old reaching his 50th appearance for the club in the final league game of the season.
Elijah Niko, the barnstorming centre who signed from Ealing is also among the list of departures, with the Kiwi moving to the French second division to ply his trade for Stade Auvergne.
Commenting on Twitter, Niko said, “Thank you very much Bedford Blues and all the supporters. It’s been an honour to play for such a great club. Once a Blue, always a Blue.”
Off the pitch, Director Geoff Comb is also standing down after six years with Bedford Blues, following outgoing Chairman Geoff Irvine.
A former player, Comb made 31 first-team appearances for the Blues between 1983 and 1986, but will still be contributing to everyday life at Goldington Road.
“I’m forever grateful to the outgoing Chairman Geoff Irvine for inviting me back to Bedford Blues and onto the Board”, added Comb.
“The position has allowed me to reconnect with lots of old friends in the rugby fraternity and meet some great people along the way.”
With the new season still a few months away, the Blues will hope to bolster their squad while continuing to work closely with Northampton Saints to mount a challenge next time out.