|Weight||105kg (16st 7lb)|
True grit, allied with technical knowledge and an inveterate sense of humour, are prized assets of Russell Earnshaw. He played for England Sevens from 1997-2003 and became assistant coach for the final two legs of the 2007 IRB World Series but has enjoyed a packed career before and since.
A contemporary of head coach Ben Ryan in the 1995 and 1996 Cambridge University teams that beat Oxford at Twickenham, Russ first played at his home town club, Stockton-on-Tees, when he was 13. He came under the coaching influence of Geoff Hurst (“not the footballer,” said Russ) and later Tony Rodgers, the legendary Cambridge mentor.
Representing England at eight levels – U16, U18, Colts, Universities, Students, U20, Saxons and Sevens – did not lead to Test caps but his representative success had just been a dream when attending Red House in Norton and Yarm School.
Russ, a back row forward, shared in Bath’s 1998 Heineken Cup final triumph by 19-18 over Brive in Bordeaux, won the old National One title twice with Rotherham Titans, once with Worcester Warriors and National Two with Doncaster Knights and Birmingham & Solihull.
Last May, in a dual role as director of rugby and player, he inspired B&S to pull off a survival act worthy of Harry Houdini. They escaped demotion from The Championship by beating hosts Moseley 38-34 in the final relegation play off, a result condemning Coventry to drop a league.
Not only that, Russ played in the match only a fortnight after dislocating a shoulder for the third time during the campaign. He still reckons his best game was playing out of position at inside centre for Bath against Newcastle Falcons during his spell from 1997-2000 at the Rec, his favourite ground.
Former players he admires are David Campese and Zinzan Brooke and his own sporting prowess extended to hockey for North of England Juniors and playing football and swimming for Cleveland in his younger days.
His grandfather Albert Brenen appeared more than 200 times as a midfielder for York City FC from 1938-51. As for Russ, he said: “My philosophy is that I want players to enjoy what they are doing and be the best that they can be.”