14/02/14 by Paul Bolton
|ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster has paid tribute to the army of volunteers who underpin rugby in England.Twelve volunteers from clubs across the country, including Deborah Mandell from Old Saltleians, were invited to watch the England senior squad train at St George’s Park, the Football Association’s centre of excellence in Staffordshire, this week.
The volunteers toured the training facilities, enjoyed a four -course lunch, watched the England players train and then had the chance to meet the players and coaching staff.
Afterwards Lancaster thanked the volunteers for their work in supporting England’s success at international level.
“We were delighted to be able to welcome this group of volunteers ,whose outstanding contribution to rugby has been recognised by the RFU, to St George’s Park,” Lancaster said.
“They are an inspiration to all of us and a reminder that every player who has the honour of representing England has got there with the support of club or school volunteers.
“This group of volunteers typifies the work carried out across the country, whether it is coaching, organising kit or providing food, which helps clubs to flourish and for players to enjoy their rugby.”
The visit was enjoyed by all the volunteers, particularly Mandell who was North Midlands Volunteer of the Year last year.
“My daughter said that it was the most excited that she had seen me about a day out. I felt very privileged to be asked to go and it was a lovely day,” said Mandell.
“The players and coaches very honest and open with us and they spent a long time talking to us about the jobs that we do in our clubs.
“We wished them all the best for the rest of the Six Nations and Stuart Lancaster thanked us for what we do for grassroots rugby at our clubs.”