Source: England Rugby

Rugby volunteers given England treat

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Stuart Lancaster and the England players have again paid tribute to the army of volunteers who underpin rugby in this country.

A total of 15 volunteers belonging to clubs across the country were invited to watch the England senior squad train at Pennyhill Park – the team’s base during the RBS 6 Nations – in recognition of their work for the game in various roles.

The volunteers enjoyed a three-course lunch, watched the England squad in training, and met with head coach Lancaster and a number of players for some highly prized photos and autographs.

Afterwards Lancaster thanked the volunteers for their work in supporting England’s success at international level.

“The England team never forget that the game of rugby union in this country is underpinned by an army of more than 50,000 volunteers,” said Lancaster. “These people willingly give up their time and effort every week of the year, to ensure our rugby clubs continue to flourish – whether it is coaching or refereeing on the pitch, or running the bar and club finances off it.

“It was great to invite some of those volunteers to our training session as a thank you, both to them individually and to everyone who volunteers in English rugby and keeps it thriving. They are a reminder to all of us that every player who has the honour of representing England has achieved that with the support of club or school volunteers.”

Lancaster has made connecting with the country’s volunteers and the clubs a central tenet of his off-field strategy. The invitation alone was a major boost and the chance to have a long post-training chat with players and meet Lancaster was a special thrill.

The volunteers attending the event included Clare Boot of Doncaster Demons and Janette Tichband of Redingensians RFC.

Clare said: “Today has been inspirational – to meet the people who inspire me to play rugby has been an amazing experience. They’re all so done to earth; they train hard and work hard at what they do. I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to come to Pennyhill Park, to meet and speak with Stuart Lancaster and the England players. It will mean a lot to my club that we’ve been recognised like this. Speaking to some of the players today, they’re really interested in the growth of women’s and girls’ rugby. That means a lot.”

Janette added: “I can’t believe that I was given this opportunity, to do something that people can only dream of. I will never, ever forget it. It means so much to feel that what you do is appreciated. It’s so important to look after grassroots volunteers and I can’t thank everyone enough for such an amazing day. It has really revitalised my enthusiasm for such a wonderful game that I feel so passionate about.”