After 11 years at the club, Esher’s director of rugby Mike Schmid said he was shocked and disappointed at being axed from the club he loved.

The Canadian was released last week due to what the club called “economic grounds”.

A statement from chairman of rugby John Inverdale also said “it was a hugely difficult decision” – and Schmid admitted it was an emotional time for both him and his family.

However, as the dust settled, he also admitted he was a realist, and that rugby at levels two and three had failed to deliver on the financial hopes sparked by England’s 2003 World Cup victory.

He said: “It was a financial decision and they felt they could not employ a full-time director of rugby anymore.

“It was a surprise – I know that finances are always tight in sports clubs such as ours, but I felt that with the progress the team had made this year and how we were looking to push forward this year we’d be OK, but unfortunately that is not the case – not for me anyway.”

He added: “It was a sad and quite emotional day for me and my family that we had to leave a place that we love.

“I am disappointed, I love the club – I have dedicated 11 years of my life to Esher.

“But I am realist, these things come to an end. I am grateful for my time there and now I am out looking for that next opportunity.

“I have had some people help me update my CV, which I have not had to do in a long time.”

Schmid’s arrival in 2004 sparked a turnaround in Esher’s fortunes, and in 2007 they were promoted to the second tier of English rugby for the first time in the club’s history – an achievement he still rates as one of his best in the game.

However, over and above the success on the field, it is the memories of the bonds made off it that will last the longest.

He said: “The best moment in my time at Esher was the first time we won promotion in my second year, it was with such a special group of people in and around the team.

“We came from nowhere to have such an amazing season to go into the Championship for the first time.”

He added: “But what I am most proud of is that a lot of past players are still really good mates, and hopefully the culture and playing environment that we created will live on.”