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Lancaster praises rugby's army of volunteers

31 October 2012

  • England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster says thanks to grassroots workers
  • Midlands volunteers visit St George’s Park for England training
Stuart Lancaster looks on ahead of the third Test in South Africa this summer

Photo: Getty Images

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has paid tribute to the army of volunteers who underpin rugby in England.

Ten volunteers from clubs around the Midlands and Eastern Counties were invited to watch the England senior rugby squad train at St George’s Park, the Football Association’s centre of excellence in Staffordshire, ahead of the QBE Internationals at Twickenham.

The volunteers toured the training facilities, enjoyed a three-course lunch and then watched the England players train. Afterwards Lancaster thanked the volunteers for their work in supporting England’s success at international level.

“English rugby is under-pinned by the army of more than 50,000 volunteers who ensure that our rugby clubs continue to flourish whether it is through coaching, refereeing, marking the pitches or making the after-match meals,” Lancaster said.

“We were delighted to be able to welcome some of those volunteers from the Midlands to our training session this week as a thank you, not just to them, but everyone who gives their time freely to ensure that rugby in England continues to thrive.

“They are an inspiration to all of us a reminder that every player who has the honour of representing England has got there with the support of club or school volunteers.”

The tour of St George’s Park was the brainchild of  Steve Grainger, the RFU Rugby Development Director and Tom Stokes, England Team Operations Manager, who arranged the day out for some of the region’s deserving grassroots volunteers.

The ten volunteers who visited St George’s Park were:

Ross Cowie from Eastern Counties RU who was recognised for his work supporting the introduction of the New Rules of Play in all clubs across the county. His many additional hours helped educate coaches to ensure the smoothest transition possible.

Mark Donovan from Staffordshire was thanked for his years of service to Staffordshire both as a coach educator and as chair of the county’s coaching society.

Henri Ginvert was shown appreciation for coordinating all of the Leicestershire leagues, spending many hours collating results, planning fixtures and communicating with clubs at all levels. He was also recognised for many years of service as manager of Leicestershire Under 20s.

John Kearsley was recognised for running a very successful summer touch rugby league which this year attracted 18 teams from local clubs, businesses and schools staff as well as playing a major part in Bedford Junior Blues RFC successfully completing their recent RFU Club Accreditation. He also helped RFU Community Rugby Coaches deliver festivals and tournaments and half term coaching courses over the past 12 months.

Ian Mason was thanked for leading and organising the inaugural S12 Shropshire Coaching conference, founding the ‘Returners and Learners’ touch programme, being an age group coach and Club Coaching Coordinator at Telford Hornets and for his contribution to the Shropshire Rugby Development Group.

Dan Sutton Honorary President of Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire and Chair of Coaching, was thanked for his hard work in providing high quality coach development.

Stephen Morgan,  Chairman of the East Midlands coaching committee, was thanked for putting in place a quality coaching infrastructure, driving forward the county’s School of Rugby in the region, and recruiting a strong team to coach and manage the county squads.

Nick Mudd was recognised for his generous efforts across Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire including serving as an active referee, referee observer, and secretary of the disciplinary committee.

Andy Root, club coach at Birmingham Exiles, was thanked for leading projects to increase the number of local schools playing including training young leaders and helping them find the right volunteering opportunities in the local community. He sits on the Greater Birmingham Rugby Development Committee, coaches Greater Birmingham Under 18s and delivers Scrum Factory sessions.

Matt Smith, the  Warwickshire Colts Secretary, was thanked for his work with the Warwickshire Under 20s programme.

Carole Thelwall-Jones, RFU Volunteer Engagement Manager, who hosted the event said: “Rugby volunteers are simply the best and it is fantastic to be able to invite these ten outstanding people to get a unique insight into the preparations of the England Team.

“They have all been nominated by members of the RFU local rugby delivery team for their contribution to developing our sport.”