Grassroots rugby requires tireless work behind the scenes, and one man who has done more than most was rewarded for his efforts at a glittering ceremony at Twickenham on Wednesday night.

Andy Woodruff is a stalwart of Avonmouth Old Boys RFC in Bristol, and his efforts through all aspects of the club earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Crabbie’s National Rugby Awards.

A player in his younger days, Andy devotes countless hours to ensure the club is run as smoothly as possible, and two of his colleagues collected the award on his behalf at the ceremony at Twickenham.

Ted Britton, the chairman of Avonmouth, praised the efforts of his club colleague, and felt the award was richly deserved.

“We nominated Andy for the award for the tireless work he puts in in and around the club,” he said. “In his younger days, he was an excellent player.

“He was captain of the seconds for about seven years, I remember playing in that team and I think we went two years undefeated.

“He is a stalwart – he took over as fixture secretary and he helps with the pitch. He does a lot of the work himself, and he’s also on the committee.

“Basically he will do anything that you ask of him and he’s just such a reliable guy. He’s talking about stepping back but hopefully this will make him stay a little bit longer!”

Rodney Kennett, the club chairman, was equally effusive in his praise of Andy, who could not make the ceremony due to work commitments.

“Andy has come in and looks after the rugby side of the business,” he said. “ He deserves the award because of the tireless work he puts in and the number of hours he puts in, considering his job.

“I think he’ll be very pleased! He’s a modest guy, keeps some of his ideas under wraps and gets them out at committee, I honestly think he deserves it.”

Another achievement for the Bristol area from Wednesday night’s awards went to Hills Construction, whose partnership with Kingston RFC landed them Club Sponsor of the Year.

The awards profile all that is great about rugby, from elite and international players to people at lower levels who work for nothing to help keep clubs afloat.

England star Chris Robshaw is an ambassador for the awards, now in their third year, and said the importance of the salt of the earth roots of rugby could not be underestimated.

“It’s where people find their love of the game,” said Harlequins flanker Robshaw. “If you want to grow the player pool in England and continue to produce players who go on play for professional sides or club sides, or international sides, it all starts at grassroots level.

“You’ve got people from all over the country come down to Twickenham to enjoy the occasion – that’s the important thing to remember.

“Everyone plays their part to make rugby clubs successful, whether that’s coaching, mini levels, boys, girls, kit, everyone has a role to play and it’s really important that awards like these really value those people.”

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