2018 Winners

Club Sponsor of the Year sponsored by Baxter Williams

CLUB SPONSOR OF THE YEAR 2018: THATCHERS CIDER

Thatcher’s Cider have been the sponsor of Winscombe RFC for the last 5 years, investing an initial £10,000 to help with everything from new shirts, events and continued support when its required.

After Winscombe RFC won ‘Rugby Club of the Year’ at the Crabbies National Rugby Awards 2017, they reflected on this achievement and wanted to give more recognition to their sponsor and the work they do for their club.

Thatcher’s Cider support the Winscombe RFC End of Year Dinner and allow the team to use their meeting rooms on a monthly basis for committee meetings.

Without Thatcher’s the progression of the club as a whole would not be where it is today.

Rugby Club Volunteer of the Year sponsored by The Rugby Paper

RUGBY CLUB VOLUNTER OF THE YEAR 2018: MARK JORDAN

Mark Jordan started as a rugby volunteer in 2002 when he volunteered to coach at Upminster RFC and completed the level 1 & 2 qualifications, refereeing course and build a new team who became Essex champions. From 2004, Mark gave up evenings and Saturday mornings to coach at St. Helens Primary and St John Payne Secondary Schools. In addition Mark went on to coach at Essex for 6 years enabling him to develop boys from other parts of the county.

In 2011 Mark volunteered to set up Mavericks RFC, a club which would adhere to the true values of rugby, be inclusive and support the aim of rugby for all. Mavericks started with one U16 boys team who went on to win the Essex Cup and has now grown into 5 teams (1st XV, 2nd XV, U18,U17 &Vets) as well as the launch of the girls division.

Mark fulfilled the dream for Mavericks by establishing a new home for them at Warley Playing Fields working with a local school to lease one grass pitch and Brentwood Council to lease an old discussed cricket pavilion. Mark dedicated 8 weeks of this own time as project manager and carpenter at no expense thanks to the generous donations and Marks hard work.

Mark is a true inspiration to everyone who knows him, especially the players who have valued his expertise as a coach, his support and dedication to Essex rugby, his true selfless commitment to establish Mavericks from nothing and his ambitions to build Mavericks even further.

Thanks to Mark, Mavericks have achieved more as a club in 7 years than anyone could have imagined.

School of the Year sponsored by Scimitar Sportswear

SCHOOL TEAM OF THE YEAR 2018: CHELTENHAM COLLEGE

Cheltenham College XV has had a remarkable 2017/18 season.

The team embarked on a tour to Japan in August 2017 which saw some fantastic rugby played in almost 90% humidity. The four games (1 in Hong Kong and 3 in Japan) were competitive and provided some challenges for the players but 4 wins from 4 showed just how talented this group was.

With 80% of the team returning after playing 1st XV rugby the previous season, the players were familiar with the ethos and framework. The fixture list at Cheltenham is arguably one of the toughest on the school circuit, playing many where current internationals attended.

Most notably the players faced a difficult challenge, in playing Clifton, Radley and Monmouth in just 7 days and only conceded 12 points across the three games which shows how resilient the group were. The XV also beat Blundell’s, who were national finalists in the Champions Trophy.

As a result of the achievement of the team, 5 boys represented Gloucester U18, who made the final (making up a third of the team) in the Academy League and 2 with Worcester. One was selected into the England U17 Squad having only played the sport for four years.

The most encouraging fact about this, is that all but one of the 7 has come through the school from a young age, which highlights the development of the team and how much they have improved as a group.

Youth and Mini Section sponsored by Little Scrummers Rugby

YOUTH – MINI SECTION OF THE YEAR 2018: VESEYANS RUGBY CLUB

Veseyans Rugby Club made a commitment three seasons ago to develop a complete M&J Section from scratch and having just completed the third season, Veseyans Rugby Club have up to 377 children registered across all age groups.

For the 2017/18 season the club aimed to start a girls team and at present have fielded a team at four RFU ‘Pitch Up & Play’ events organised by local CRC Adam Blackford.

The club benefits from many volunteers including 43 qualified coaches, 2 qualified safe guarding officers and 15 qualified first aiders. In addition 10 further volunteers that manage the M&J Reception every Sunday morning.

All coaches are encouraged to develop their coaching knowledge and experience in the game and our supported and funded to attend RFU CPD’s and coaching courses, again many of which are hosted at Veseyans Rugby.

The club works tirelessly in the community and this summer the club will be attending six Primary School Summer Fetes locally to help promote the RFU ‘Kids First’ approach, a policy that Veseyans Rugby is 100% behind.

Women’s Player of the Year sponsored by The Marriot Hotel

WOMEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2018: MOLLIE LATHAM

Mollie Latham, Captain of Crewe and Nantwich Ladies, has made a tremendous impacted across the field of play and within the wider club and rugby community.

Mollie’s contribution can be categorized as: Player, Leader, Recruiter and Role Model.

As a player, Mollie has a versatility and willingness to lead by example. CNRUFC Ladies has been successful since inception and Mollie has been vital to the team’s journey. Naturally a back-row forward she has set an example to the wider squad by playing wherever she is needed. She is leading try scorer with 15 tries.
Although Mollie is a gifted player, she has worked hard to improve. Her willingness to do extra training has seen her increase her own fitness and particularly her speed.

As a Leader, Mollie is capable of leading a team of strong personalities and also, crucially, recognising when players struggle. She has an ability to spot when a team-mate is unsure of themselves, giving the necessary words of encouragement to bring them back into the game without ever letting her own contribution drop.

As a Recruiter, Mollie has helped grow the squad. The majority of players have stayed the distance- growing the squad by an incredible 35% this season.

As a Role Model, Mollie’s conduct has been exemplary. She plays a role in supporting the juniors, contributed to the ‘boot camp’ the team ran over the summer, leading some sessions herself.

Although Mollie could play rugby at a higher level, she recognises the importance of the local rugby family and embodies the RFU values.

Facility Development of the Year sponsored by Chartwell Funding

FACILITY DEVELOPMENTOF THE YEAR 2018: HARLOW RUGBY CLUB

Harlow Rugby Club finally realised their dream when after 20 years in the making they moved into their 6 million pound facility at Latton Park which was officially opened on 1st September 2017. The Club’s move was paid for from the proceeds of the sales of their old site.

Alan Price, President HRFC said there is no doubt this was a very long and at times frustrating project, however the outcome has surpassed all our dreams. Alan Brooking our move chairman and our design and build partners, we have created a Rugby Club that not only meets all RFU and Sport England standards but also meets the Commercial and Community needs of a modern rugby club and of which we are all incredibly proud.

The playing facilities consist of 4 Senior Pitches, of which 3 are floodlit, and 4 mini pitches, with 6 junior changing suites and 2 larger suites, a strength and fitness centre and 2 remedial and first aid rooms. The club house consists of 3 bars, a fully functional professional kitchen, and a balcony and outside a 680 square metre terrace and bar.

Ivor Smith Essex RFU stated “Developing a new club house and grounds to meet the wants and needs of a club and the local community is never an easy task, but one that Harlow have relished in by giving up their lease on their old ground at Rams Gorse in exchange for a brand new like for like facilities at Latton Park.

The Club with now over 1100 Members also has a very active social section running a wide range and complete program of social events, from live bands through to afternoon tea both for members and the community.

Men’s Amateur Player of the Year sponsored by Jardine Motors Group

MEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR (AMATEUR) 2018: BEN LARGE

Ben Large has been playing at Drybrook RFC since he was 6 years old and is the youngest ever captain at the club.

At the start of last season there was a buzz around Drybrook RFC. 3 seasons in South West One West under the guidance of Drybrook’s youngest ever captain, Ben Large, had seen continuous improvement from survival (11th of 14), through sustaining (6th of 14) to pushing for promotion (3rd of 14) and the clubs highest ever league finish in its 125-year history.

The 2017/2018 season didn’t kick off quite as expected with a loss at home to fierce local rivals Newent however it was from that point that the team pulled together under the stewardship of Ben who led by example throughout the season.

Ben even at one point in the season had to book extra flights (at his cost) to return from Vegas after a miss booked flight by a party organiser meant he would miss a game, unhappy with the thought he might miss a game, as soon as they realised the error he set about finding a new flight home.

There is a great team ethos at the club which has culminated in this unprecedented success. 12 of the playing squad have progressed through the junior section at the club playing from the age of 8 and for a village with a population of circa 3000 the club is massively punching above its weight.

A lot of this is due to the closeness of the playing squad, Ben regularly organises off field socials, out of season training & challenges and is really the glue that holds this team together.

His performances on the pitch are fantastic, it only takes a read through a few of the match reports on the Clubs website to realise how important his ability and his leadership is to this team.

Women’s team of the Year sponsored by Macro Meals

WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR 2018: YEOVIL RUGBY LADIES

Described as inclusive and friendly, Yeovil Rugby Ladies have welcomed 9 new players to debut this season, supporting them in their journey to becoming fitter, stronger and more confident players and people. Four of Yeovil Rugby Ladies new players have gone from never playing rugby to being selected alongside 3 other teammates to play for their country.

In 2017 Yeovil Rugby Ladies achieved promotion despite the loss of key players through retirement and injury, remaining in the higher league and reached the semi-final of both the Somerset Cup and Intermediate Women’s Cup.

Yeovil Rugby Ladies are committed to finding innovative ways to attract women to rugby and continue to engage with the local community.

One of the team’s biggest achievements aside from rugby is their fundraising attempts. Firstly by running a quiz night and then a weekend long world Record Attempt simultaneously raising money for charity and the profile of the women’s sport –over £2500 raised so far!

Rugby Coach of the year sponsored by JNTO

RUGBY COACH OF THE YEAR 2018: CRAIG STEWART

Craig Steward, Coach of Old Northamptonians Ladies RFC, is described as a fantastic coach who shows true resilience and tenacity. Craig’s passion for rugby is proven in his commitment to the team and dedicates his time each week to help the team stay up within the league.

Following injuries to key players earlier in the season, Craig worked hard to recruit new players and continued to motivate the team who were left feeling beaten and a little hopeless.

Craig spends hours of his time working on making the team better both in terms of skill development and as a unit.

In 2017, Craig had the opportunity to go along to a coaching workshop with the Women’s England Rugby Union team and returned more invigorated than before and shaped Old Northamptonians Ladies RFC training based on what he has learned.

Men’s Team of the Year sponsored by Scimitar Sporstwear

MEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR 2018: ROYSTON RUGBY CLUB

This season has been one of the most memorable for Royston Rugby Club.

Royston Rugby Club secured promotion after a dominant display against Hendon saw them win 62-0 in Herts Middlesex One. The results and elevation to a higher level has been testament to everyone associated with the club. Having been in the league since 2013, the team pulled together this season to achieve their promoted. Thanks to efforts from newly appointed of Head Coach, Hannah Gallagher, Hannah inspired a renewed level of enthusiasm amongst the team with the belief and confidence that the team could achieve promotion despite the league being more competitive than ever.

The promotion means the club will be playing at its highest level in more than 20 years!

Rugby Club of the Year sponsored by Pitchero

RUGBY CLUB OF THE YEAR 2018: ST IVES RFC

It’s been a spectacular season for St. Ives RFC resulting in the first team winning the league and being promoted to East Midlands (South) League 2, along with finishing the season with 100 points and winning the Midlands division of the RFU Senior Vase thanks to high-scoring success at Spalding.

Through new leadership St. Ives RFC has ensured everyone’s views are ambitions are heard resulting in increasing numbers at training across First XV, Second XV and a good number of eligible colts making the leap from junior to senior rugby (including a couple of father and son partnerships in the games!).

St. Ives RFC takes pride in being a friendly club and constantly works hard to improve the overall member and visitor experience. They continue to hold a strong tradition of volunteering amount the junior age groups and this season have encouraged children to sign up for the YRA scheme.

Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Crabbie’s

RUGBY LIFETIME ACHIEVMENT AWARD 2018: FRANK MORGAN

Frank Morgan made debut for Wigan 1st XV 29th March 1969 away at Kendal.

In the mid 1970’s when Frank hung up his boots, he threw himself into developing the next generation of talent, coaching Colts Rugby Union at Wigan where he produced talent that included amongst others the late Mike Gregory, Joe Lydon and Andy Gregory who went on to forge careers at the top of Rugby League, and the likes of Dave Cusani.. His Wigan team went on to win the Lancashire Colts cup – a unique achievement for an unfashionable Rugby Union Team!! In recognition of his achievements and as a result of the talent he produced by the early 1980’s Frank was appointed Coach and selector for Lancashire Colts

In 1991 Frank became chairman of Wigan RUFC and held this position until 2012. During his tenure he became the champion of junior rugby within the club and spearheaded the development of the new Junior Section – a section that grew under his tenure from one small team to its current position with over 200 children playing and training each week. The junior section was awarded the 2017 Mini and junior club of the year – and Frank played a major role in this award.

In honour of his service to the County, Frank was honoured with Lancashire County RFU Presidency 2003-2004 and the Lancashire Colts Cup is now named the ‘Frank Morgan Cup’ in his honour.

Frank is now Chairman of Wigan Sports Council and volunteers every waking hour to promoting the sport of Rugby Union – to anyone that will listen. His vision and passion have ensured that Rugby Union is blossoming in the Rugby League heartlands – usurping the ‘new-sayers’ who did not believe Rugby Union could survive, never mind thrive, in the North West of England.

His love of the game has inspired three generations of players and his infectious personality has made him many friends across the rugby playing counties of UK, and beyond (including significant efforts to support the development of the game in countries like Malaysia).

Rugby’s Inspirational of the Year Award sponsored by The Daily Telegraph

Ed Jackson

On 1 April this year, former London Welsh, Wasps and Dragons back-row forward Ed Jackson climbed Snowdon, at 3,560ft the highest peak in Wales. Yet less than a year earlier, doctors had told Jackson he may never walk again, after a spinal injury he suffered diving into a swimming pool had left him paralysed from the neck down. However, he was determined to get back on his feet and Snowdon became his target to raise money for Restart, the Rugby Players’ Association’s charity that paid for most of his rehabilitation.

Another incentive was to inspire others in the same situation. “I want to give people motivation who are told they can’t do or they can’t do that,” he said. Jackson spent fi ve hours a day in physiotherapy and had to overcome icy conditions on the ascent, but his eff orts have so far raised £22,500 for charity. “It was a bit of a slog to the top but we got there,” he said. “I was adamant that I was getting up there no matter what.”

x