Northampton Casuals under 8s coach nominated for RFU unsung hero award

‘When I see the players putting something into practice that we have been working on, using new skills or playing with confidence - that makes it all worthwhile’

Monday, 20th June 2022, 10:29 am

A junior rugby coach at Northampton Casuals has been nominated for an unsung volunteer of the year award.

Under 8s coach Aaron Hughes is a finalist in the Unsung Hero of the Year in the 2022 Honda Volunteer of the Year awards, run in partnership with the RFU, which recognises and rewards grassroots volunteers across the whole game.

Playing rugby since childhood, mostly in the second row, Aaron’s time in the game saw him turning out for local sides Milton Keynes and Bletchley, before he joined the RAF and got posted to different locations. In one memorable event, Aaron turned out for the RAF team in Cyprus, facing up to the Army and Navy and even the Cypriot team in a tens tournament.

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Northampton Casuals has Under 8s coach Aaron Hughes is a finalist in the Unsung Hero of the Year in the 2022 Honda Volunteer of the Year awards

Later settling in Northampton and changing careers to join Thames Valley Police, Aaron joined Casuals three years ago when his son decided to give the game a try. When his son moved up to Under 7s, Aaron was persuaded to take on the head coach role, running the side solo for 18 months and successfully building the team from five players to an impressive 22 regular players in under 8s.

All this has been achieved whilst working busy shifts on the front line of policing. Aaron says: “If I am on a late shift I will finish work at 3am, sleep for a few hours then get up and coach rugby, then it’s back to work again. If it’s a night shift I work ten hours then go straight to rugby before heading home to bed. I’m half knackered and half dead some weeks!”

But seeing the progress of his players has been a real motivation for Aaron. “When I see the players putting something into practice that we have been working on, using new skills or playing with confidence - that makes it all worthwhile. Seeing the buzz of the team, working together and enjoying their rugby - that’s a huge reward.”

With support from Casuals in his own development and training, Aaron’s aims for the side are to retain his players and develop their confidence as they approach the tackling phase of mini rugby in the Under 9s. With an assistant coach now on board too, the future is promising for this young side and their inspirational coach.

Chair of the mini and junior section at Northampton Casuals, Darren Parnell said: “This nomination is well earned recognition of everything Aaron has achieved with this young side. He has a huge commitment to the club and like many other volunteers manages to balance this with work and a busy family life. Coaches really do make the rugby magic happen at grassroots community clubs like ours - congratulations Aaron from all of us at Casuals!”

Aaron will attend an East Midlands RFU celebration dinner on June 24, where he will receive a certificate of recognition from EMRU President Mr Nick Powley.