The dismantling of the squad Kevin Maggs built last summer, and which delivered the club’s highest league finish since 2000, is a bitter pill to swallow for a head coach who has worked tirelessly to provide Moseley with a team worthy of Championship status.
For the first time in years relegation was never part of the season-long narrative, Moseley won nine of their 23 games and finished seventh out of 12. While that might not sound overly impressive an appreciation of context is important.
Moseley have one of, if not the smallest playing budget in level two, it is a fraction of that enjoyed by table-toppers Bristol and they are one of only two or three clubs who can genuinely claim to be part-time. Their whole squad assembles twice a week for a combined three hours.
Yet last summer Maggs was able to tempt several players from full-time ranks, Matt Williams from Bristol; Chris Brightwell, who had left England Sevens; Rhys Buckley from relegated Doncaster; Wales Under-20 captain Cory Hill, released by Cardiff Blues; and ex-Northampton Saint Scott Armstrong.
In retrospect it was a work of genius. These players, combined with promising youngsters like Olly Robinson and Buster Lawrence, unearthed from the national leagues 12 months earlier, made the Moseley of 2013-14 a very handy outfit.
Not good enough to defeat the big financial hitters, but better that virtually anyone else.
Yet, a year on Maggs finds himself having to reinvent the wheel. Buckley, Robinson, Lawrence and Williams have all gone as have reliable veterans Ben Evans and Simon Hunt.
Once again the holes in his squad are large. But who will be missed most?
Matt Williams – 26 apps, 14 tries: If a single player can represent the difference between this season’s Moseley and those of recent vintage, flying Williams is that player.
Nicknamed Spesh – as in Special Talent – Williams brought the X Factor to the Mose back-line, something we haven’t seen since the May, Trinder, Sharples era and a far cry from the days when they fielded Ollie Thomas and utility man Brad Hunt as makeshift wingers.
Maggs did everything he could to keep Williams, offered him decent money, accommodation, a place on a Masters course and even a job with a firm of architects. But London was calling and Scottish will be his employers next season.
Replaceable? Not really. Where do you find another ‘fastest winger in the Championship’? It is difficult to see how Maggs can find an upgrade.
Ben Evans – 36 apps: Moseley were bottom of the league and scrummaging with all the resistance of a dandelion clock when the former Wales international turned up before Christmas 2012.
They went on to win four league matches to stay in the Championship with Evans the keystone of a stable scrum that spread confidence through the side.
At the start of this season the front row struggled badly and Evans was dropped. However, he came back into his own from December onwards and never looked back.
Maggs offered him another deal to stay but at 38-years-old with a partner in Australia, it was time to move on.
Replaceable? Tightheads are hen’s teeth at the best of times, experienced ones who show leadership off the field even more . Maggs needs a solid, veteran, front row anchor.
Olly Robinson – 55 apps, 8 tries: He came from Loughborough Students to fight Ben Pons for the No.7 shirt.
In two seasons he has developed into a real gem of a throwback openside. Good over the ball, delectable hands and as good an attitude as you will find anywhere.
His move to Bristol will double the takers of the vegetarian option at the club dinner but if Bristol go up will he survive in a land of beef-cakes?
Replaceable? His skill-set brought balance to Moseley’s back row and there aren’t many genuine sevens left in the game. Talk of a loan-back from Bristol next season.
Buster Lawrence – 48 apps, 3 tries: A sensational discovery in his first season after joining from Dings but hasn’t really kicked on this term.
A supreme athlete, heroically strong with real fire in his belly, he now needs to find his position and learn the game. Even with his super carrying he will find it hard to get game time at Wasps.
Replaceable? Moseley will miss what he could have been rather than what has been lately, which is caught betwixt and between.
Rhys Buckley – 18 apps, 9 tries: A real warrior who played injured for most of the season. Had a lot to do with lineout improvement, helped and benefitted from a strong mauling game. Good around the park and deserves his second chance at Dragons.
Replaceable? Moseley won three of seven games and did without him for two months. Much depends on Adam Caves.
Simon Hunt – 50 apps, 11 tries: Not the points machine he was for Bees but he has not been full-time during his two seasons with Moseley. Found decent form in the second half of this season and even bagged a hat-trick at Jersey.
Replaceable? Teaching commitments could end his time in Birmingham. But maybe not.