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Friday, June 22, 2012

Jonny Wilkinson pays tribute to club rugby coach with surprise visit

Jonny Wilkinson turned up unannounced at Southwark Tigers Rugby Club recently to pay tribute to, and support, long standing coach and founder, Vernon Neve-Dunn. Southwark Tigers RFC is London's first inner city rugby club. 

Born out of Neve-Dunn's hard work and dedication to the cause, the club has been ticking along for over a decade now, with Neve-Dunn as head coach, chief fundraiser, fixtures coordinator, kit man, and minibus driver. He is also chairman of the newly established Southwark Sporting Association.

"The role of Vernon and his impact on Southwark and inner city rugby is difficult to quantify. Neither would exist without him in this part of London. His work with the Tigers and the Hitz project has seen the club develop teams from under 5s through to senior mens, womens and girls rugby," said Helen Clayton, Hitz Project Manager for Premiership Rugby.

"Vernon embodies what it is to be a true community hero," she added.

Neve-Dunn and the young players were surprised by the arrival of assistant coach for the day Wilko, who helped with training drills and techniques ahead of the club's big game with rivals Hackney Hitz. He was taking part in Gillette's Great Start campaign.

"There's something about inspirational coaches.. these guys last with you forever. Guys that have coached me in the past are still the guys I play for when I play big games now," said Wilkinson. 

The Great Start Campaign aims to celebrate coaches and inspire the next generation by encouraging people to get involved in coaching. Aspiring coaches can now apply for coaching qualification grants via Gillette’s Facebook page

Posted by Rugbydump at 10:45 am | View Comments (10)

Viewing 10 comments

Alex June 22, 2012 12:51 pm


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karimabuseer June 22, 2012 12:53 pm

Nice to see that despite so much fame, most of our lads stay nice and grounded unlike other sports. Visited this club a year or so ago, great community feel-especially with the minis.

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Sean June 22, 2012 1:38 pm

You get the sense that despite the PR around it, Jonny Wilkinson is the type of bloke who would always have time to do this kinda thing.

Well done to Vernon

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Southwark Rugby June 22, 2012 1:57 pm

Great to see Vernon's hard work being rewarded. Amazing what he has achieved.

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Silky June 22, 2012 3:27 pm

Good ol' Wilko. bet everyoe will rember that training session

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Quade Cooper June 22, 2012 3:55 pm

He's not fit to lace my boots.

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Gregan Fanatic June 22, 2012 7:57 pm

Johnny Wilkinson == LEGEND!

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Canadian content June 23, 2012 12:48 am

It was all manufactured, but Jonny always seems so humble and genuine. Get clip, well done Vernon, you've inspired me.

PS you are right quade, he probably couldn't tie laces that were cut before you got put in the drunk tank.

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Dave June 23, 2012 10:33 am

Great Story and kudos to all involved.

The inner city London thing is correct but only really on a technicality. East London Rugby Club is very much an inner city rugby club but the borough it's in, Newham, is classed at Greater London for purely historical reasons. Strange

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Chris June 27, 2012 6:20 pm

Simply adds even more credibility to what Vernon (for the Youth teams) and Niall et al (for the Senior sides) have achieved in an astonishingly short time.

I've been peripherally associated with Southwark Rugby since Vernon started the ball rolling. It is a dynamic, inclusive and (moreover) FUN environment for juniors and seniors alike. Keep it up!

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