Fitting climax to 15 years of inspiring young players at grassroots level
Rugby School are enjoying their moment in the limelight after director of sport Simon Brown was crowned Rugby Coach of the Year at the prestigious Crabbie’s National Rugby Awards at Twickenham.
Held at England rugby’s headquarters, the National Rugby Awards celebrate the best of English rugby, from grassroots to the very pinnacle of the game.
Brown, former director of boys’ games, had been shortlisted for the award in recognition of his dedicated service since joining the School 15 years ago.
Brown leaves the role having played an instrumental part in Rugby’s first unbeaten season since 1978 last year, following more than a decade of hard work nurturing players on and off the field.
And the coach admits winning the award was a fitting climax to many years of inspiring the young generation at grassroots level.
“It’s incredibly humbling,” said Brown.
“I didn’t expect to come away with this especially when there are so many good quality people – particularly in the grassroots level – that do so much and get so may rewards from it.
“Grassroots is integral to what everybody does. That’s where I started, at the grassroots level, and you just repeat the things that people did for you.
“I think that’s one of the great things about rugby football. You try and replicate that to future generations and anything from the game that you’re passionate about and enjoy immensely.”
And the rugby enthusiast revealed he was taken aback by the scale of the awards, which were held at the iconic location of Twickenham, where former England captain and event ambassador Chris Robshaw was on hand to congratulate winners.
“I looked on the website to see what the NRAs were all about and I had no idea it would be of this magnitude,” said Brown.
“The awards embody everything about the game, the atmosphere of the game and all the presentations – it’s a brilliant event.”
Brown, who has produced several junior internationalists including Northampton Saints’ Harry Mallinder, has been at the heart of running countless rugby sevens programmes and prep school matches throughout his 15-year stint at the co-educational independent school.
And he insisted that Rugby School would always have a special place in his heart and paid tribute to the inclusive ethos that the school embodies when encouraging youngsters to play the game.
“The history about the place is what makes this school so special,” he said.
“We’re custodians of the sport and it was the birthplace of the game. One of the things we do is give as many opportunities as we can to people who want to come and visit the school, whether that’s from overseas of people from local schools.
“People have the opportunity to come and have a fantastic education whatever they’re back ground and that’s one of the great things about Rugby School.”
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