Rugby World is the voice of global rugby and the biggest-selling rugby magazine anywhere and they have chosen Manchester Rugby Club as this year's winner of their prestigious award for grass-roots rugby.
Here's what they had to say about us:
There’s been no lack of hard-luck stories in the pro era, but can anything surpass Manchester Rugby Club? One of the world’s oldest clubs (1860), they were in England’s second tier in the early 2000s before disaster struck.
Having put all their eggs in the first-team basket, there was little to prop up the club when relegation saw funding dry up and the semi-pro players depart. A dwindling pool of youthful amateurs had to pick up the slack.
The first season back at level three, 2009-10, began with a 148-0 home defeat by Esher and ended with the Surrey club registering some of their own men as opposition players just so Manchester could fulfil the return fixture. Esher paid for the bus down and handed over proceeds from a raffle.
Manchester suffered five successive relegations and hold the longest losing run in English league rugby – 87 defeats, 13 of them by 100 points or more.
Gradually, however, the green teens became battle-hardened men with 100-plus league games under their belt. In February 2016, as Manchester headed towards ninth spot in South Lancs & Cheshire One, DoR James Beane called a meeting as he felt a talented group was going through the motions. “Do you really want success?” he asked.
The answer was a resounding yes – and this season the squad has delivered in spades. A 15-14 nail-biter against eventual runners-up Douglas preceded 13 consecutive bonus-point wins as Manchester’s fast and expansive rugby brought stunning rewards. It was the games against Liverpool St Helens, won 46-33 and 50-7, which proved season defining. “That away game (50-7) in February was the point we started to believe,” says Beane.
Skipper James Brodie and Tom Fantom led from the front, Dean Hogg scored a bucketful of tries and Doug Day knocked over the kicks. But the title was truly a squad effort, with 47 players contributing to a triumph that meant so much after the pain of recent years. Lock Sam Davis, only 17 when he was called up for those 2009-10 maulings, is foremost among the ‘survivors’.
The next objective? “To be the best amateur club we can be,” says Beane. “Level Five feels right (as a goal) with the quality of players we have and are producing.”
Indeed, with the club providing playing opportunities for everyone from tots upwards, including a Women & Girls section and a county cup-winning colts team, they’re already a proud model for the community game.
We were already proud of our First XV's resilience over the last few years, and their success this season, but even more so now that we have had Rugby World's recognition (and a second trophy this season for the clubhouse cabinet!)
Updated 22:18 - 20 Jun 2017 by www.manchesterrugby.co.uk