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Home > News > RFU Awards for Coaching winners announced
Your News RFU Awards for Coaching winners announced

FORMER London Wasps back-row forward Chris Wilkins was among the coaches recognised at the first RFU Awards for Coaching ceremony at Loughborough University.

Wilkins, now director of rugby at Whitgift School and Senior Coach in Kents Constituent Body School of Rugby, received the Performance Development Coach of the Year Award from former England head coach Brian Ashton.

Ashton also presented Elfyn Pugh of Staffordshire with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of more than 40 years involvement in coaching in the West Midlands. Pugh, who hails from Harlech but who has been based in the Midlands for more than 50 years, received similar recognition at the annual Midlands Coaching Conference last summer.

Kay Weeks of Stockport RFC was presented with the Childrens Coach of the Year in recognition of her work coaching and administering the coaching of disabled players at the club.

Dougie Hall of Northumberland club Berwick was presented with the Participation Coach of the Year Award for his involvement with Berwicks youth section and also with the Northumberland School of Rugby and as a part-time Sports Partnership/RFU Coaching Development Officer for Berwick.

Dick Matthews, a coach who has worked with Cambridge University, Shelford and the Swedish Womens World Cup side, received the Coach Educator of the Year Award for his work in enhancing RFU training programmes. A total of 94 Trainers and 386 Coach Educators have all improved their delivery as a result of his work.

The Awards Ceremony, which celebrated the importance of coaching, was held during the RFU Coach & Player Development Annual Review & Planning Conference. Gary Henderson, Head of Coach & Development said: The awards are designed to recognise the substantial work that coaches undertake within the game retaining and developing players at all levels.

Citations for the winners of the RFU Coaching Awards winners:

Kay Weeks

Kay coaches and administers coaching of disabled players at Stockport RFC. She liaises with local Schools to encourage participation of Medium Learning Difficulty /Specific Learning Difficulty children and is active at county and regional level in this form of the game.

Kay is an inspiration helping Stockport Rugby Club to provide open access to rugby for children with learning difficulties.

Kays vision is that rugby and rugby club life should be more accessible to all children, and now she has not only established this form of the game at Stockport but she is the driving force in MLD and SLD rugby in the NW area and hugely appreciated nationally.

Starting from scratch, Kay has shown innovation and determination to develop the team and the infrastructure so that the team now has:

A strong group of volunteer coaches and helpers

Equipment suited to disabled rugby

Suitable changing facilities

In 2010, MLD / SLD rugby at Stockport is thriving and the club can boast that it provides open access to rugby for all. Players of all ability are made to feel part of the club and on a Saturday some of Kays team are actively involved supporting the Senior Club; doing the jobs that make a big difference on match days; helping to sell programmes and raffles and setting out pitch markers and flags.

Ask Kay and she will modestly say that every week is a great achievement. Seeing these children smile and improve, the simplest of catches, passes and scores are a massive individual achievement in themselves. Without her efforts there would not be any involvement with sport for these children,

However it is the raising of the profile of MLD / SLD rugby across the region is Kays real achievement. She is seen as mentor, source of help and model of good practice for other similar groups in the North West. In 2010 and with her help and guidance another local club has set up a disability team with strong links to special schools in their area.

The category for this nomination is for Childrens Coach and it is difficult to measure the overall impact that Kay has had in this category for MLD and SLD children. Her influence as a source of knowledge, inspiration and a model of good practice has helped to develop more coaches in this area of the game. The cascade effect means that her influence is now being felt by many more children in this special category in the North West and the legacy that she has created will last a long time

The fact that these children are able to play a competitive game of rugby where everyone is given equal play time irrespective of playing ability is an achievement in itself. Having a programme of matches and travelling to away fixtures and the annual tour are again performances worthy of mention.

The integration of these children as much as possible into normal rugby life at Stockport is tremendous credit to the club but most of all to Kay.

Chris Wilkins

Chris is Director or Rugby at Whitgift School & Senior Coach within the RFU CB School of Rugby for the Kent CB.

Chris has gained many outstanding achievements by creating coach and player development programmes that have allowed emerging and talented players to express themselves in highly competitive games with great success.

At the same time he has managed to share his knowledge with other coaches to ensure that more opportunities are afforded to players and a lasting legacy in successful methods used are sustained and improved.

Through Chriss coaching, six of his players played for their Country in 2010.At Whitgift, his teams have had extraordinary success such as winning the Esher Presidents Cup, the Evening Standard Team of the Month for October, the Rugby World Team of the Month for January, the Evening Standard Team of Year and Daily Mail/RBS Under 18 Cup winners.

Chris also coaches Kent County RFU at senior level where they won last seasons County Championship Bill Beaumont Plate.

Chris is responsible for the management of player development throughout Kent CB, ensuring that high quality coaches are working with emerging players through to performing at the highest level.

He has also designed, managed and implemented a development programme for coaches working with talented and emerging players with the aim of nurturing talent and implemented a player development plan within Whitgift School. The detailed programme is innovative and has proved to be most successful this year with 6 players representing their respective countries, England, Scotland and Romania.

Chris has designed and implemented a range of coaching programmes on which he leads and manages with great effect. He is always looking for ways to improve delivery to emerging players and is a strong advocate of player centred coaching.

His ability to improve and influence the many coaches that he works with has been one of the reasons why his teams have achieved so much, not only in winning games but in the development and nurturing of emerging young players through to performance. Getting six players to play for their country is a massive achievement and underlines his effectiveness in nurturing talented players.

Dick Matthews

Without doubt, one of the most pivotal decisions the RFU made some eight years ago was to invest significantly in its Coach Educator workforce.

Coaching qualifications and resources amount to very little, if the people who deliver them are unable to encourage others to learn, treat coaches as individuals and support each one differently. It is people that make the difference and it is as true for coach educators working with coaches, as it is for coaches working with players.

Dick Matthews is an accomplished coach, working with Cambridge University, Shelford RFC and the womens Swedish World Cup team.

However, it is for his role in Coach Education that Dick is being recognised for tonight and he has played a pivotal role in delivering coach education to thousands of coaches.

Dick is a key practitioner as a Mentor, Trainer and Coach Educator at local and national levels, however, he has also worked with the department as an adviser helping to continually shape the training of Trainers and Coach Educators enabling Rugby Union to be classified as a Trailblazer sport for coaching.

Dick has made a tremendous impact in the developing high quality Coach Education for the benefit of the many Trainers and Coach Educators involved. A total of 94 Trainers and 386 Coach Educators have all improved their delivery as a result of his work, enhancing the RFU training programmes and making a significant contribution to their development.

However, Rugby is not Dicks only speciality, his skills and abilities as a coach educator are equally sought by other sports such as Cycling, Badminton, Rounders, Angling, Basketball and Fencing.

His work with such a wide range of sports is unrivalled. His experience and knowledge of coaching structures, qualifications and programmes is outstanding and he has left a lasting legacy with all of these Governing Bodies; it is also this experience that he continually brings back to rugby union to help us to keep evolving our own practice.

Dick has worked at both levels, consistently delivering high quality coach education to coaches, and helping to continually keep the RFU coaching development system at the forefront of coach education. He richly deserves this award for his dedication, integrity and passion for helping other coaches.

Dougie Hall

Dougie coaches at Berwick RFC where he is involved with the Under7s through to the Under 18s (Colts). If that is not enough, he coaches Northumberland Schools of Rugby, and is a part time Sports Partnership/RFU Coaching Development officer for Berwick RFC (20 hours a week)

Dougie is integral to the success of rugby locally where he organises school festivals, for years 5 to year 8 and works in Berwick first and middle schools forming links to Berwick Rugby Club.

Dougie is an exceptional coach with outstanding values that have been recognised at School, Club, District and County level throughout the North East of England.

His dedication and record of achievement in helping young people participate and stay in rugby is exemplary. During 2010 he has delivered weekly coaching sessions in all the Berwick area schools ranging from tag rugby for years 3 & 4, introductory sessions at the Middle Schools across the town, and into the surrounding countryside of the North East.

He is an integral part of Berwick RFC and is involved in every part of the club from being a first class coach, a club administrator, organising fixtures and referees, to working with the club coaches who are starting off with the Under 8s.

He gives of his time freely on Sunday mornings to mentor the many coaches that are required to run the Mini and Junior sections of his club, concentrating on skill development through the Fundamentals.

The feedback from school teachers on the impact that he has on the childrens development and confidence is exceptional and he is in great demand in teaching basic skills and the fundamentals to young children.

In terms of innovation, to save money and to ensure that every school is given an equal opportunity to take part in fixtures and development festivals, he attained a MIDAS driving licence, so that with teacher support he can drive the school bus to and from the venues. So far, thanks to his selflessness and dedication, no school has missed a fixture or festival that he has organised ensuring that participation remains an enjoyable experience.

To add to all of this Dougie is involved with the Northumberlands School of Rugby programme. He coaches across the Under 13 to 16 year age groups on Monday nights travelling the 120 mile round trip to get to the sessions without complaint; he is never late and conveys a positive attitude throughout his sessions which ensures that the players return and continue to develop through their involvement with high quality coaching and sound values.

Over 50 of the young players that he introduced to the game through schools and clubs have gone on to play for the county of Northumberland.

He is self effacing and plays down his role and achievements. For the parents, teachers and coaches who know him, his greatest achievement is the exuberance and exceptional talent that he brings in influencing the many children and young players who are just starting off with their involvement in a sport that is complex and rewarding.

Elfyn Pugh

Elfyn Pugh has been involved with coaching rugby in the West Midlands and his beloved county of Staffordshire for over 40 years. He qualified as an RFU Preliminary Award holder in 1970 and he is still coaching in schools today at the tender age of 76.

His enthusiasm and dedication to the sport is an incredible achievement and he is so deserving of this lifetime achievement award because that is exactly what he has done, spent a lifetime dedicated to coaching a sport that he loves.

He is an exceptional individual who still delivers quality sessions in schools packed with the fundamentals and skill development that he is so experienced in. In May last year 22 schools that he has worked in during the season attended a Tag Rugby Festival. This festival alone provided over 200 school children with the opportunity to take part in a festival of sport and enjoy a great day of activity.

If we consider the fact that Elfyn has been doing this for 40 years then the impact of his contribution to rugby football is exceptional and without parallel.

His involvement with Rugby has not just been through coaching. In 1966 he organised and led a group from a local works team to form Willenhall RFC. The club are still going strong today and Elfyn has held every position at the club from; fixture secretary, secretary, Vice Chairman, Chairman and now president of the Club.

In addition to his many duties with Willenhall Rugby Club Elfyn has found time to represent the sport of rugby on various Committees Senior Clubs (Chairman for four years), Volunteers, Competitions, local Council Rugby Development Groups (Wolverhampton and Walsall). He is also the longest serving member on the Staffordshire RU Management Committee but his greatest passion has always been coaching.

He Became the Staffordshire Coaching Society Assistant Secretary in 1967 and took over as Secretary in 1970. He continued in this position until work commitments forced him to stand down in 1982, however, to keep involved he became Treasurer of the Society, a position he still holds today.

During the 1970s and for 15 years he organised the very successful Staffordshire Coaching weekends. This involved arranging visiting coaches from all parts of the UK: accommodation and facilities for 70/80 coaches/players maintaining the standard and finding funds was always a hard task but he never let anyone down and always managed to attain the funding through innovation and hard work.

This brings us back to today and for the last 12 years he has been the School Liaison link for Willenhall RFC. He coaches Primary School children in South Staffordshire averaging two schools a week/five weeks in each term culminating in a Tag Festival which is held at his club Willenhall RFC.

As a result and in recognition of his tireless work with the Coaching Society and on the County Management Committee he was given the honour of becoming President of Staffordshire RFU for 2002/2004. During this time England won the World Cup and he felt it was an honour for a Welshman to organise the exhibiting of the Cup around various Staffordshire County Clubs.

In terms of time dedicated to coaching and support of coaching Elfyn thoroughly deserves to be recognised for a lifetime achievement award. He is an exceptionally warm and generous man who has a deep passion for coaching young players and a love of the game. There are probably thousands of people out there who have been and are involved in rugby because of his influence and commitment to a game that he has given a lifetime to.

They have all had the benefit of his experience and his skills but most importantly he has given so generously of his time.

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