Updated: Tuesday, 26th September 2017 @ 5:41am

'Fantastic spirit' at Wigan RFC leads youngsters to National Rugby Awards top gong

'Fantastic spirit' at Wigan RFC leads youngsters to National Rugby Awards top gong

| By Jimmy Booker

Wigan RFC are celebrating after claiming the best Youth and Mini Section of the Year at Wednesday’s Crabbie’s National Rugby Awards at Twickenham.

The Greater Manchester side scooped the prize at the ceremony, which honours everything great about rugby at all levels, from elite and international down to the grassroots.

And it is the work being done at youth level at Wigan that caught the eye of the judges and secured them the award.

Wigan president Alan Hodkinson was effusive with praise on all at the club after their success.

“Every successful team we have had at the club has been born out of the minis, the juniors and the colts,” he said. “It’s absolutely crucial to the future success of the club that the minis and juniors section continues.

“The spirit is fantastic – these kids play in the right spirit, there’s no sulking, no spitting the dummy out, they just get on with it and play the game because they love it.

“We can’t afford to pay players, so developing your own players is crucial. Sadly, the cream gets taken away by the likes of Sale Academy and Fylde, but the rest of the lads who stay there are vital to the survival of grassroots rugby [at our club].”

Ian Morgan, the mini and junior section chairman at the club, added: “I’m lost for words, which a lot of my mates will say never happens! I’m completely dumbfounded, knowing the competition we were up against. I’m absolutely delighted.

“There are some very famous faces there, it was such a well-supported event. We’re delighted to get the opportunity to be nominated and even more delighted to win the thing!”

England star Chris Robshaw is an ambassador for the event, now in its third year, and echoed Alan and Ian’s sentiments about the future of the sport at lower levels.

“It’s where people find their love of the game,” said Harlequins flanker Robshaw. “If you want to grow the player pool in England and continue to produce players who go on play for professional sides or club sides, or international sides, it all starts at grassroots level.

“You’ve got people from all over the country come down to Twickenham to enjoy the occasion – that’s the important thing to remember.

“Everyone plays their part to make rugby clubs successful, whether that’s coaching, mini levels, boys, girls, kit, everyone has a role to play and it’s really important that awards like these really value those people.”

Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer passionately support rugby at all levels. To help amateur clubs thrive, they have launched Crabbie’s Rugby Rewards. Find out how your club can earn kit for every bottle of Crabbie’s sold in your clubhouse at www.crabbiesrugby.co.uk