The Crabbies National Rugby Awards ceremony is a yearly event which was established to celebrate the success and achievements from every rugby club across the country.
Pitchero were proud to be officially associated with the awards, as well as being the main sponsor of the 'Rugby Club of the Year' award. It was great to see our clubs being recognised for all their hard work throughout last season.
The prestigious event took place on the 30th of August and was held at the home of English rugby, Twickenham stadium.
Grassroot rugby players, coaches, volunteers, supporters and sponsors were joined by past and present England internationals and Premiership rugby stars, all commemorating English rugby at all levels.
The ceremony is officially the largest rugby club awards ceremony in the world and with the likes of former England captain and British and Irish Lions player Chris Robshaw being the ambassador, it's hardly surprising.
Chris had this to say prior to the event;
"When my business partners at Zeus Events, together with The Rugby Paper and Pitchero, brought the idea of a National Rugby Awards Dinner, celebrating rugby at all levels, I was truly excited and thought it was great idea and I jumped at the chance and the opportunity to be part of what promises to be one of the largest rugby club awards night in the world."
Before the awards night took place, a specialist panel of judges had to narrow each award down to a maximum of six finalists, who would all attend the awards night.
This year, over 1000 entries were made, making the judges task extremely tough and with so many great success stories this country has to celebrate, it's easy to see why their job was so difficult.
After taking everyone's entries into consideration, the entries were whittled down to 67 nominees who would be in with a chance of winning one of 12 categories.
Pitchero club winners
Unfortunately, there had to only be one winner of each award on the night, despite everyone there deserving to pick up a prize. It was magnificant to see so many Pitchero clubs picking up awards throughout the night.
Men's Amateur Player of the Year
There were six finalists for the award from across the country. In the end, it was Sam Neave, the captain of West Leeds RUFC who picked up the award after leading his side to victory in the Intermediate Cup final at Twickenham this year (pictured right).
He's managed to guide his side to five trophy wins in the past two seasons.
Club Sponsor of the Year
Hills Construction, who sponsor Bristol based Kingswood RFC won the award on the night, just pipping Hall-Fast Industrial Supplies Ltd (Nottingham Rugby & Paviors Rugby Club), Heffers Designs (Bath RFC Ladies) and AMD Electricals (Witham Rugby Club) to the prize.
A huge well done to all the sponsors shortlisted for the awards and to the thousands of others who help grassroots rugby thrive, without the backing of them the amateur game wouldn't be how it is.
Facility Development of the Year
There were also four finalists for the 'Facilty Development of the Year' award, with Plymstock Albion Oaks recieving the award ahead of Isle of Wight RFC, Weston-Super-Mare RFC and Ilford Wanderers RFC.
Proud & honoured to receive the award for Best Facility Development Of The Year last night. All the best to all nominees@nationalrugbyaw— Plymstock Albion Oak (@plymstockoakrfc) August 31, 2017
Men's Team of the Year
One of the biggest awards of the night, the Men's Team of the Year prize was contested by six finalists, all more than worthy of being crowned.
However, only one could win and that was Manchester RFC, who won the South Lancs/Chesire Division One title last season, picking up 111 points and winning 22 of their 26 league games.
Here's Karl Higginson and Richard McCartney speaking after they collected the award.
Rugby Club of the Year
Aforementioned, Pitchero was honoured to sponsor this award which had six finalists, all more than worthy of winning the award. Winscombe RFC came out on top, thoroughly deserved from the team based near Weston-Super-Mare.
Women's Player of the Year
Women's rugby is certainly on the rise and rightly so, the England Women's team are excelling on the international stage and the talent that is coming through from the amateur game is clear to see.
There were five players shortlisted for this coverted prize; Ellie Rodgers (Sudbury RUFC), Alix Taylor (Barnsley Rugby Club), Kirsty Parr (York RI Ladies), Ailish Clear (Harrogate Ladies RUFC) and Laura McGillivray (Royston RFC).
These women have played exceptionally for their clubs all year, however, it was Kirst Parr of York RI Ladies who was chosen to win the award for her outstanding efforts last season.
Kirsty spoke after receiving her award.
Congratulations to the Crabbie's National Rugby Awards Women's Player of the Year Kirsty Parr. Your passion for the sport shines through 😄 pic.twitter.com/1NTW6dcgDK— National RugbyAwards (@nationalrugbyaw) September 9, 2017
Women's Team of the Year
Barnsley Ladies were the worthy winners of the 'Women's Team of the Year' award after being shortlisted alongside Yeovil Ladies, Old Northamptonshire Ladies, Westbury Ladies, Bath RFC Ladies and Darlington Ladies.
We spoke to their Team Manager Stuart Bennett about what it means for his team to collect such a great award.
"It's a massive honour for us to win the award. The senior ladies team was only formed in August 2014 and now into our third season of competitive league rugby. We have gone 2 seasons unbeaten in the league our only 2 defeats in that time was in the final of the Junior Cup in 2016 and the semi final of the same competition in 2017."
"Praise has to go to all the players and coaches who all put in the work to improve week in, week out. The support we receive from the pitch both on and off the pitch is phenomenal we really are one club and I think that also makes a difference."
Barnsley's players are all homegrown around the area and some of their first team have come from their junior ranks and Stuart went on to comment,
"It's hugely important to keep on recruiting players to play, we don't have the luxury of some clubs to be able to count on university players. Hopefully, this award will inspire others to come forward and play."
Thank you to Stuart for taking the time to speak to us.
Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award
Championing all the hard work people have done for their rugby club and the game of rugby for the majority of their lives is something that should never go amiss.
Andrew Woodruff (Avonmouth Old Boys RFC), Andy Ambrose (Nuneaton RFC), Doug Bridgeman (Kettering Rugby Club), Peter Blackwood (Caithness RFC), David Rhodes (Nottingham Rugby and Nottingham Cosairs Rugby) and Trevor Large (RugbyUnited) were the tremendous people who were shortlisted for the award.
They all deserved the prize but it was Andrew Woodruff of Avonmouth Old Boys RFC that won. Sadly, Andrew wasn't there to collect his award.
Congratulations Andy 'Woody' Woodruff.... thanks @nationalrugbyaw deserved for years of selfless hard work from all at the club! ⚫️🔴⚫️— Avonmouth Old Boys (@AvonmouthOBRFC) August 30, 2017
A huge congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted finalists, the Crabbies National Rugby Awards 2017 was definitely a night to remember and a great celebration of rugby in England.
Tremndous credit must go out to everyone involved in rugby, from grassroots level to the elite stage. It's certainly a sport that is enriched with magnificant coaches, players, volunteers, parents and everyone else who helps out week in, week out.
We look forward to next years awards where we can once again celebrate the success of rugby across the country.
For more information and picture galleries from the evening, head to the National Rugby Awards website.
If you attended or were involved with the event, or would love to be there in 2018, don't hesitate to leave a comment about your experience, we'd love to hear from you.