Friday, June 22, 2012
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 www.facebook.com/GilletteUK