Now then – 365 Sporting Days is supposed to be largely about the photos – a self styled Phlog (ha  ha – a new word!)  For this event I only have one photo, unless I can source some random photos of some of the people involved.  I do have hundreds of them, I’m sure I can find a few to add colour!

But, I can’t pass this event by, I need to add it to my ‘Sporting Diary’ and I really must write about the evening – it really was rather special!  It’s going to read more like an article – apologies.

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This was one of those – Texts from Dave at In The Loose – moments – would you like to go to the RPA Players’ Awards? – And yes, it was another of those – Let me consider for 60 seconds moments – YEEEEEEEES PLEASE!!

The dinner was on a school night, literally, as that’s my day job, but, I figured it’s a Wednesday, I don’t work on a Friday, that makes one day to get through with the need of matchsticks to keep my eyes open!

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The event took place at Battersea Evolution – not very near to Essex!  So I booked myself an Airbnb, taking a small risk as 2 of the 3 I booked for my 6 Nations travels were cancelled at the last minute.  That did mean I had a voucher for £50 meaning my room cost a mere £24 for the night.

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I travelled by train to Clapham Junction, which was pretty quick from work, I took an UBER taxi to the house at a small cost of £5.00 – I really recommend travelling this way, safe, cheap and if any problems happen they’re quickly sorted out.

As promised I was able to get into the house, and my bedroom was easy to find, a large room with a big, incredibly comfortable double bed and a bath in the middle of the adjoining bathroom.  I was able to get ready at a leisurely pace before I ordered another UBER.

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I wasn’t so lucky this time, the driver was from North London and didn’t know the area, he took the wrong roads, I had to tell him to turn round at one point!  But, between us we found the venue; as a footnote, UBER refunded a 3rd of the charge after checking the route taken.

And so I had arrived – a small snag was that I had no idea what my hosts for the evening looked like!  Not too dramatic – I have no problem with being in a room on my own, and I found a fellow Billy No Mates to chat to for a while.  I even imbibed a glass of Bollinger Champagne, very nice it was too!

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We were called to our tables and it was great to see that Steven Engels of #rugbyunited was on the table, one friendly face I knew!  Our hosts Nick Mott of QBE, Claire Edwards of Pitch and Ali Minto of Generate ween’t too far behind.

Sara Orchard of the BBC – who I have to say is a total delight arrived with Sarah Mockford, a writer of Heels on Halfway Fame, we were also joined by Dave Thomas – a man of many talents, one of which is being involved with Rugby Dump, we didn’t realise until the end of the evening that we’re Twitter linked!

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A small confession, we had the company of a Sky TV man too, very nice, but I have no recollection of what his name is – sorry Sky man!

So, a little about the awards – I want to say a little more about 2 special awards and I’m rambling, so I’m going to list the majority.  A quick mention for the MC – one Martin Bayfield – he was brilliant!  Very quick and very funny!

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Green King IPA Championship Player of the Year – Matthew Morgan – Bristol Rugby                           The Sunday Times England Women’s Player of the Year – Rochelle Clark                                           HSBC England 7’s Player of the Year – Alex Gray                                                                                       The England Player of the Year (Rhead Group) –  Jonathan Joseph – Bath Rugby                                                                        LV Young Player of the Year – Henry Slade – Exeter Chief                                                                           RPA Players Player of the Year – Jonathan Joseph – Bath Rugby                                                                         TAG Heuer Special Merit Award – Mark Cueto – Sale Sharks

Clearly some very special players on that list, it has to be wondered if these awards will be a pre-cursor for the Premiership Rugby event following on a week later?

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And so to the 2 remaining awards –

The RPA Blyth Spirit Award (Towergate Group) was presented to an extremely special and inspiring man.  Matt is 30, in 2005 his life was changed forever when he suffered a catastrophic injury.  During scrum practice with England U21’s the scrum collapsed and his neck was broken.    http://matthampsonfoundation.org/about-us/matt-hampson/ Read more about Matt here.

We were shown a film explaining the work of the Matt Hampson Foundation – I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the room in need of  tissues, it was extremely moving as we saw people in similar positions to Matt being given hope – being helped to – ‘Get Busy Living’ – Matt was in no way going to let his accident stop him living. That award and the explanation all with hearing from Matt made the whole evening a truly special event.

The final formal part of the evening saw Jonny Wilkinson inducted into the RPA Hall of Fame (KPMG) – having watched him play for many year the whole world knows what a supreme player he was.  And I do think the nature of the man has been evident, a consummate professional he’s always come across as a total gentleman.

He received his award from Richard Hill, he was incredibly humble when Martin Bayfield spoke to him, quietly spoken and reserved, I can imagine this man has no ego at all.  A wonderfully talented player, a wonderful man!  It was a privilege to be there to see him take the plaudits.

We were also there to raise money for RESTART RUGBY – The Players Charity – a charity there to help layers when they most need it, more about them here – http://restartrugby.org.uk

This has been more like an In The Loose article than my usual blog, I just had to write about what was a special evening.  Here’s the link to my article about the RPA – http://wp.me/p3oCci-2YS

For someone who had to be back at work in Essex for 8:15 am the finish was late – I didn’t actually meet my Airbnb host – the house was asleep when I got back, as well as when I left in the morning.

An UBER – a posh one this time – to Waterloo station and fortunate train connections saw me at work on time, I was tired all day – but boy it was worth it!

More about the RPA here –

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