The new season has barely got started but already Bognor Rugby Club have plenty to celebrate thanks to the National Rugby Awards.
The hard work and efforts of Doug Millen have seen them nominated in the Outstanding Contribution category of this year’s star-studded event, with an awards ceremony set to take place at Twickenham Stadium tonight (Thurs).
Created to honour the achievements of every rugby club in the country, the National Rugby Awards recognises all those that contribute to rugby union in England
Committed coaches, passionate players and all those behind the scenes are set to be recognised at the home of rugby – with few personifying the spirit of the game quite like Millen.
His vision for the club has already transformed the community, successfully developing a women and girls squad and mentoring young people involved in anti-social behaviour.
Millen has for the first time in the club’s history retained and transitioned over 50 Colts players ready for next season, putting the youth section in its strongest-ever position.
Whether he is juggling fixtures, seeking volunteers for the kitchen, encouraging players into county trials or coaching his own son’s team, Millen is admired and respected by all.
Doug’s achievements have also caught the eye of rugby’s elite, namely Harlequins back row Chris Robshaw.
The former England World Cup captain is an ambassador for the National Rugby Awards, impressed by the voluntary work that he believes is pivotal to the grassroots of the sport.
“Volunteers are hugely important. Without them the clubhouses don’t work, the games don’t take place on a weekend and they’re the cornerstone of what grassroots rugby is built upon,” he said.
“Volunteers probably don’t get the appreciation they deserve, the people who have been there 25 years, every single weekend, most weeknights, they’re so vital for the game.
“It’s fantastic that there are so many people out there who are willing to help the next generation grow.
“Volunteers are happy, charismatic, good people. You don’t get many volunteers that aren’t good people – they light up wherever they are, they’re the people that people remember and make a difference to individuals as the years pass.”
* The National Rugby Awards recognises the outstanding work done by coaches, players and supporters across the country. There is no other event which brings together the clubs and players from all the leagues in England, from grassroots to elite. www.nationalrugbyawards.co.uk