ENGLAND captain Chris Robshaw might be busy preparing for a home World Cup, but he insists Chichester RFC’s exploits should not go unnoticed.
Robshaw will lead Stuart Lancaster’s England out at Twickenham on Friday September 18 to start arguably the biggest tournament of his career, hoping to make home advantage pay off with World Cup glory.
However, just 16 days before tackling Fiji, Robshaw will be getting to grips with the great and the good of the sport’s grass-roots heroes at the first ever Lawson Keys National Rugby Awards – also at Twickenham.
The awards will acknowledge the dedication and commitment to rugby by thousands of clubs and individuals across the country, with Chichester up for the Club Development of the Year gong.
They have been nominated for their CRFC Legacy project – which has seen £500,000 raised for improvements, mainly from members – and Robshaw is keen to highlight the club’s successes before attentions turn to the Webb Ellis Cup.
“The National Rugby Awards is a brilliant thing for rugby,” he said. “It is something that hasn’t been done before. It’s about celebrating the grassroots level all the way up to the top level and Chichester have certainly played their part.
The National Rugby Awards is a brilliant thing for rugby.Chris Robshaw
“There are 30 different categories so you can nominate, in either men’s or women’s sports, an individual who has been valuable to the club and I think that’s an important thing.
“When you look at this and you look at the grassroots, who are those people that made the club tick? Whether it’s the people making the food, cutting the grass or running sessions on the weekend, we really want to celebrate those people. It really is an awards for everyone and hopefully everyone can be involved.
“Without them the clubs couldn’t really function and that’s what it is about. You’ve got clubs up and down the country where hundreds of kids turn out every weekend and want to impress.”
And while he might be at the other end of the spectrum these days as England captain, Robshaw admits the memories of his early days in rugby still live on in his memory.
“The numbers are phenomenal and without people running the club that wouldn’t take place,” he added.
“For me it was my mum. She was hugely influential to me, whether she was helping me getting around or giving me the opportunities that were out there.
“Of course there were coaches as well who helped more on the rugby side but in terms of everything else it was her.”
* Lawson Keys sponsor the 2015 National Rugby Awards. Follow the Awards in The Rugby Paper www.therugbypaper.co.uk and see the Observer for news of how Chichester get on.
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