WHARFEDALE'S long-serving chairman of rugby Michael Harrison is to step down at the end of the season.

He is to be replaced by player development director Rob Baldwin, who has been appointed director of rugby for the 2018-19 season.

However, although Harrison will be shedding none of his other roles with the Greens.

He said: "I will be 72 in April and I feel that this vital role should be taken by a younger person, but I will still be fixture secretary and I will continue doing the registration for the first-team players. I will also still making players feel welcome when they first come to the club.

"I won't be going to every away match next season but I reckon that I will still be going to 70 or 80 per cent of first-team games.

"I also feel Rob has a better knowledge than me of potential recruits."

Harrison, who received an inscribed tankard for services to the sport at the Rugby Union Writers’ Club awards in London last month, has been in charge of rugby matters at Wharfedale since 1983, either as head coach, director of rugby or chairman of rugby.

He added: "I will also be trying to ensure that we get four senior sides out on a weekend, as well as watching the minis and juniors."

Harrison initially played for the Greens’ first XV when he was 16 against Keighley, and went on to make another 664 appearances over 22 seasons, eight of them as captain.

He was head coach from 1983-2006, during which time his beloved club gained four league promotions, finishing up at tier three (National League One).

Since then he has been director of rugby and has held the post of fixture secretary since 1980.

His family also have many links with the club, with his dad being a former president while his mum served as match secretary.

Michael's relatives also have a rich history with the Greens, with his dad, three uncles, brother Jimmy – who started Wharfedale’s mini and junior sections – two sons, four nephews and two great nephews all having played for the first team!

Further management roles for 2018-19 will be announced in due course, but Harrison said that it was vital that the first XV stayed in National League Two North, adding: "We are not of the woods yet."

The Greens are only one place and five points above the highest of the three relegation berths, and Blaydon, who are immediately below them, have a game in hand, while bottom-of-the-table Luctonians, who are nine points adrift of the Greens, have two games in hand.

Wharfedale have no first XV match this weekend, while second-from bottom Sheffield are at Macclesfield and Blaydon host South Leicester.