On the day he announced his move from Coventry to Pertemps Bees, evergreen prop Adrian Olver has lambasted his former employers for a 'stitch-up' after they refused to renew his contract at Butts Park.
The 36-year-old yesterday signed a one-year deal at Sharmans Cross Road and becomes Phil Maynard's first major signing of the summer but the feeling remains that neither man could quite believe the ex-Worcester, Harlequins and Saracens man was available at all.
Olver claimed that Coventry had actually offered him a contract shortly after last season finished, only to withdraw it while he was away on holiday.
By the time he returned to the country the National One side had recruited a younger model, in the shape of Blackrock College's Niall Treston, and had told their captain to look for a new team.
"They have stitched me up and I'm pretty miffed about it," Olver said yesterday. "They negotiated my contract down by £ 12,000 and although I wasn't happy about it I came all that way down and decided to sign it because I wanted to stay.
"I actually went in to sign before I went away but didn't because [chairman] Keith Fairbrother wasn't there. The annoying thing for me is that the delay meant that my window of opportunity to go somewhere else was reduced down to about two weeks before pre-season. This is the Coventry of old coming through."
Olver was one of the club's most consistent players last season, starting 21 games and appearing in five more as he assumed the captaincy of a team who were struggling when he joined them towards the end of the 2002-03 season.
And he is not sure they will cope well without him, saying: "I don't want it to sound like sour grapes but I think they are mad.
"They do not have any depth in terms of experience. Blackrock is a student side. This league is a lot tougher than that," he said in reference to Treston's last club.
But Coventry's joint director of rugby, Ian Carvell, defended their actions and said that Olver was aware of the situation before he went on holiday and that there were a number of details on which they could not agree.
"We were interested in signing him but could not agree on all the items of the deal," Carvell said. "He was always aware right from the very beginning that we were looking at other options.
"He has been a very good player for Coventry and we wish him all the best but you have to take your chances off the field as well as on it."
For his part Maynard, Bees' director of rugby, was delighted to have happened upon a player with such experience in the most crucial position in any team.
He said: "Good tightheads are very rare and I was pleased when he became available. He started a lot of games last year which suggests he has still got a lot of good rugby left in him."
Bees have also signed openside flanker Cae Trayhern from Welsh Premier Division side Pontypool.
Trayhern, captain last season, will help to fill the gaps left in the back row by Tom Jordan and Nathan Carter, both of whom have been released. Jordan has joined Stourbidge and Carter has linked up with Cinderford.
The flanker is likely to make an early return to Pontypool as Bees have arranged a friendly against his old club as part of their pre-season training camp in South Wales on August 21. Before that they have a friendly against Stourbridge at Sharmans Cross Road on Saturday August 13 and a game with Bridgend at the Brewery Field on Friday August 19. Cardiff visit Solihull on August 27.