by James Fountain
The coaches of Old Otliensians RFC in Otley have won the Great Coaching Moment of the Year prize at the 2018 UK Coaching Awards.
The Leeds-based amateurs were chosen over Gareth Southgate, the England men’s football manager, and Tracey Neville, the England women’s netball coach.
The trio of coaches – head coach Kris Stafford, 32, and his assistants Stephen Quinn, 66, and Harrison Marshall, 22, were staggered by the news.
The Yorkshire Division Two club were nominated for the award after winning the RFU Junior Vase final at Twickenham in May, beating South Molton 32-21.
The award is a huge achievement for the small local club and great recognition for the hard work the coaches have put into grassroots sport.
It has also served to put the club on the map, often in the shadow of Otley RFC, a much larger club who currently play a few divisions above, hosted the famous televised Barbarians v All Blacks game in 1973.
Stephen Quinn, a builder by trade, said: “It’s a great accolade for us as a group of people – we’re all part timers but this is our joy, this is what we love.”
The award, decided by a public vote, was given at an award ceremony at the Honourable Artillery Company in London on 29 November.
Head Coach Kris Stafford, rugby development officer at Leeds Beckett University, told Yorkshire Voice he was delighted with his squad’s performances, and praised the club for its efforts in grassroots amateur rugby.
In keeping with the reality of sport, the club now find themselves at the bottom of the table after securing only two wins from their first twelve matches.
Concluding his first team squad meeting ahead of Saturday’s match at third-placed Wath, Mr Stafford displayed a photo of them receiving the cup at Twickenham in May.
He said: “I’m showing you this to remind you of what we achieved six months ago – we can get that back.”
But last Thursday’s award ceremony and May’s victory in their Twickenham final will linger in the memory for a very long time.
Mr Stafford added: “It was a fabulous day and nice to be recognised for the hard work we do for nothing – we will treasure that forever.”