Will Thornton has won the inaugural Club Community Rugby Officer (CCRO) of the Month award. The award recognises the work of community rugby staff across Ireland as they work with clubs and schools to develop young players.
There are over one hundred officers in action across Ireland who work in the areas of player coaching, coach development seminars, teacher training, volunteer workshops and player development.
The inaugural winner of the programme is Will Thornton. Will is a CCRO in the Galway area, working with Corinthians RFC and Galwegians RFC.
Having grown up in Terenure in a rugby-mad family, it was always likely that he would follow in the footsteps of his father, Eddie, of UCD and Leinster fame, and Will and his wife Sarah will be hoping their young son Lochie continues the tradition.
He studied Sports and Exercise (Rugby) Management in IT Carlow, and after finishing his degree he was employed as a CCRO with Buccanneers RFC before moving to the Galway area in his current role.
Will lists some of his best experiences as a CCRO as seeing all the preparation and organisation of a rugby festival come together and then, in turn, seeing the mini rugby numbers in the clubs grow as a result.
It is a crucial part of the role of the Community Rugby departments to drive recruitment of new players into clubs through engagement in local schools in the area.
Over 80,000 children were coached in primary schools in Ireland through the Aldi Play Rugby Programme last season and this, in turn, helps clubs boost their numbers in mini and youth rugby.
Speaking about the award, Will said: “I love my job, I believe rugby has instilled great values in me and I am privileged to help kids of all different abilities and cultures experience those values.”
Scott Walker, IRFU Director of Rugby Development, commented: “This award scheme highlights the incredible work being done by our network of staff. They are bringing rugby to schools that have never had a rugby programme before and opening a pathway for more and more boys and girls to enjoy the sport through their school and by introducing them to local clubs. Will has done great work in Galway and his enthusiasm for rugby shines through everything he does.”
Some of the schools Will works with include:
National schools: Bawnmore N.S, Claregalway E.T, Cregmore N.S, Carnmore N.S, Briarhill N.S, Maree N.S, Oranmore B.N.S, Gaelscoil De HÍde, St Pats N.S, Tirellan N.S, The Claddagh N.S, Merlin Woods N.S & Scoil Chaitriona.
Secondary schools: St. Joseph’s Patrician Colleger (The Bish), Colaiste Iognaid (The Jes), Claregalway Secondary School, Colaiste Einde, Salerno Secondary School, Merlin Community College & Calasanctius College.