Wimbledon Rugby Club hero Bryan Croke has been given a glowing endorsement by England flanker Chris Robshaw after being nominated for Amateur Player of the Year award at September’s National Rugby Awards.
Having played for the club for three seasons, Croke is credited with helping the team shape their style of play and rarely misses a training session, as well as leading the club socially and coaching some of Wimbledon’s affiliate clubs.
Robshaw might be busy preparing for the new season but the England and Harlequins flanker has been quick to highlight the efforts of Croke.
Robshaw and his Harlequins side raise the curtain on the new Premiership rugby season on September 3 when they take on Bristol Rugby at Twickenham Stadium.
Just three days earlier however the home of English rugby will be centre stage for the great and good of the sport’s grassroots heroes for the annual National Rugby Awards, now in association with the RFU.
Croke will be getting his moment in the spotlight, after he was nominated for the award in a shortlist of six, alongside nominees from Old Grovians, Scunthorpe, Plymouth Argaum, Weston Super Mare and East Grinstead rugby clubs.
“It’s hugely important to build and promote the grassroots of the game,” said Robshaw.
“That is where every international player starts and first falls in love with the game.
“And that is what the game is about at the end of the day, enjoyment.
“We want to celebrate everything that is great about rugby, from the grassroots right the way through to club and internationals.
“This ceremony therefore is a chance to celebrate people like Bryan all under one roof.
“When we as professionals get to go back to our first clubs it is fantastic, and the game is still growing.
“After the World Cup it is all about building and still getting out to more and more clubs to celebrate.”
From the chairman to the individual who has swept the changing rooms for the past 30 years, the National Rugby Awards recognises everyone involved in the game, with 14 different categories to be contested.
The glittering 2016 Awards ceremony at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday September 1 will be attended by rugby celebrities as well as members of England Rugby teams and Premiership players, leaving Robshaw confident of bettering last year’s inaugural awards night.
“Last year we thought about putting these awards together and they were a great success.” he said.
“It went better than we ever expected, we got more than 300 entries which was great.
“This year we wanted to reach out to a large number, to keep growing the awards and promote this great game.
“There are a variety of different awards, from Men’s Player of the Year, Women’s Team of the Year, Pitchero Club of the Year, right through to Lifetime Achievement Award. It’s going to be a great night.”
For more information about the National Rugby Awards, please visit the website http://www.nationalrugbyawards.co.uk