RNRU Chairman awarded prestigious RNRU award

The 2020 Chris Alcock award for “outstanding contribution to Royal Navy Rugby” recipient Andy Kellett (R) on Army v Navy match day 2019.
Chris Alcock when he presented the award for the first time in 2016 to CPO Ash Coates.
Chris Alcock with the 2017 winner Alan Church.

The Royal Navy Rugby Union President, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key surprised Chairman, Captain Andy Kellett at this week’s RNRU Annual General Meeting, when he announced him as the deserving recipient of the Chris Alcock award for 2020 for his outstanding contribution to Navy Rugby.  

Like many organisations adapting to the lockdown restrictions brought about because of the pandemic, the RNRU recently held its first virtual annual general meeting.  With 55 attendees who included former Presidents, executive committee members, players, coaches, volunteers, life members and trustees, it was certainly a larger and broader audience than in previous years. 

As well as the usual AGM business of reviewing the year’s activity, performance and financial status, the AGM is an opportunity to recognise those who have delivered exceptional contributions as volunteers.  Headlining these awards is the Chris Alcock award for “outstanding contribution to Navy Rugby”, named after former RNRU player and later Chairman of the RNRU, and now serving the Union once again in his current role as Chairman of Navy Rugby Limited, the trading company which supports the Royal Navy Rugby Union charity.   Previous winners of the trophy, including Ash Coates, former senior men’s XV coach, and RNRU Secretary Alan Church, were present at the virtual meeting and were amongst the first to congratulate Andy on his award. 

2020 has been an unprecedented year for the RNRU which has seen the cancellation of the Inter Service competitions and all community rugby activity, cancellation of both the 2020 and 2021 highlight of the Service Rugby season – the annual Army v Navy match at Twickenham, the associated financial challenges and significant restructuring of the organisation.  It has been the strong, clear and exemplary leadership of Captain Andy Kellett MBE RN that has steered the RNRU through this tumultuous period and has enabled it to safeguard its future.  

As soon as the impact of covid-19 became clear, he focussed the executive committee effort on reviewing and prioritising all outputs to ensure the RNRU could continue to fulfil its charitable objectives.  Andy worked closely with Dr Rowan Taylor, Head of Navy Sport, to ensure that the RNRU was not unduly impacted by the changes instigated during 2020 through the reorganisation of Navy Sport and helped put in place new structures that will be mutually beneficial to both the RNRU and Navy Sport more widely.  All of this will ensure that rugby will continue to be delivered to the benefit of all our sailors and marines, as soon as the current restrictions are lifted. 

By ensuring that the difficult conversations and decisions were made in a timely manner, Andy has ultimately protected the long-term future of the RNRU and his outstanding contribution this year cannot be understated.  Having achieved all this alongside fulfilling an incredibly busy and high-profile day job in DE&S is testament to his capacity as well as his commitment and passion for the RNRU. He is therefore highly deserving of recognition through this prestigious award. Our congratulations go to Andy from all associated with the Royal Navy Rugby Union.

By line: Hugo Mitchell-Heggs
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © MG Photography and John Walton