IT IS entirely fitting that the final season of Otley’s influential director of rugby Peter Clegg, after 22 years, will involve promotion.

The Cross Greeners, who lead the North Premier table, and second-placed Preston Grasshoppers are already guaranteed a place in National League Two North next season.

But the title is still up for grabs, although Otley will take that if they triumph at York in their final game of the season on April 23, when Hoppers are at winless Northwich, who Otley trounced 78-0 on Saturday.

Clegg, 72, admitted after their 12-try romp at home to Northwich: “I decided about six months ago that this would be my last season.

“It has been brewing there for a while. Things creep up on you and you look at yourself and where you are and what you are feeling.

“I have had medical issues for three months, which I have got through, and then the opportunity came for Andy Rock, who lives about 50 yards from the club, to take over from me, and it was too good an opportunity to miss.

“That was the deciding factor – and that someone of his stature can come in is fantastic.”

Keighley-born Rock, 36, formerly played for Leeds Tykes, and was Academy director there before taking over on an identical role at Bath in 2016.

Clegg said of his own legacy: “You just desperately try and put your stamp on things. I have always looked for a good pack and pace on the wings, and you want to be able to play different facets of rugby.

“Now we have two No 10s and a strong pack.”

Clegg, who is from York, had many years at Harrogate, playing from the age of 18 to 32, including captaining them, and then went back to York RI, where his dad was coach, and coached there, and then Otley came into his life.

He said: “My dad brought me down here to watch York RI play when I was seven! The best times here were our seven seasons at National League One, which was then the second tier, and we finished fifth in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

“It was unbelievable, unbelievable. We beat Exeter home and away, we played Harlequins, who we lost to in the last minute of the game here – teams that have gone to be among the best teams in the land.

“Our success was down to talent spotting and organisation as we didn’t have lots of money.

“We signed Kris Fullman, who had come to live in the area, and he said before the interview on a Monday night ‘Can I bring my brother-in-law along?’, which I thought was a strange request when it should have been an interview with me and Kris.

“But his brother-in-law was a monster of a bloke in Justin Wring, who played for Bristol, Stade Francais and Leeds, and also ended up playing for us at loose- head.

“We also had Mark Luffman at hooker, and even when we played Harlequins, Dean Richards, who was Quins, said that that trio would grace any Premiership front row.

“We had Jason Oakes, who ended up playing three seasons at Newcastle, and we had quality players such as Dave Scully and Simon Binns.

“The town embraced what we were doing and it was absolutely packed here for every home game, and they were great times to be a member of Otley.”

Otley have now won 23 of their 25 matches, losing the other two, and their promotion this campaign had helped to erase the bitter feelings of being relegated from National Two North last season when they went down by 0.03 points on points-per-game average when they still had the bottom two clubs to play.

With leaders Otley hosting Northwich, who had lost 23 of their previous 24 matches, having also drawn one, it was always going to be a matter of how many points the hosts would score.

Northwich had decent 10-minute spells here and there but they were always second best to Otley’s pack and backs, and the home side had notched up four tries for the bonus point in 22 minutes.

First-half tries came from No 8 Adam Malthouse; returning right winger Henry Roberts, who climbed above Steve Depledge to become the club’s third highest league try-scorer with 46; centre Elliot Morgan, lively full back Ben Magee and flanker Sam Hodge, with accurate fly half Ed Crossland adding three conversions.

Game Northwich, who had centre Richard Dale (cumulative team offences) and lock Joshua Warburton (killing the ball) sin-binned in the second half, conceded seven tries after the interval to Malthouse, flanker Dan Preston-Routledge, Morgan, left winger Struan Connor (2), hooker Luke Cole and Crossland, who added six conversions.