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- 07 May 2015 00:00
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Chris Robshaw makes a trip back to where it all started more than 20 years ago.
The further you go in sport, the stronger your connection becomes to the place where it all started. That was the sentiment of Chris Robshaw after a trip back to Warlingham RFC in Surrey as part of this ambassadorial role with QBE.
The 28 year-old started his journey to become England captain at the club more than 20 years ago and was delighted to see how far the club has developed since his early years.
"It’s great to be back here and see how much it’s evolved,” said the Harlequins flanker. "The amount of kids who have turned out and the amount of volunteers and coaches, they make this place run because without them this wouldn’t happen every Sunday.”
Robshaw was accompanied by his Harlequins coach Conor O’Shea to highlight QBE’s headline grassroots initiative, the recruitment of 2,015 new level two coaches by the time of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The quality of coaching at all levels of the game is an important legacy strand of the tournament and that resonates with Frank Wright, Youth Chairman at Warlingham. He also neatly summed up the ethos of rugby and its ability to transcend social boundaries in the area.
He said: "What we’re about is taking kids from all backgrounds, guys from the local council estate mixing with top public school rugby players right from the start.”
"To have guys [like Chris] go right through to the top is brilliant and it’s even better when they come back. You just have to look round at the faces of these guys to see how much it means.
"The QBE initiative is superb, the fact that we can get coaches through their exam courses frees up other money and then also the fact that we can recognise guys, and they really appreciate it.”
Discussing the impact every coach had on his journey to the top, Robshaw added: "All the coaches I’ve worked with have added something to my game at different stages. They connect differently with you and give you different understandings.”
The impact of coaches, volunteers and inclusive clubs at grass roots level are invaluable and athlete role models can have an inspirational effect on youngsters who aspire to reach the pinnacle of their sport.