Rugby Club Legend Nigel to Retire at the End of Season

Henley Rugby Club have announced that Henley Hawks’ Director of Rugby, Nigel Dudding will be standing down from his role at the end of the season.The epitome of a true club legend, Nigel made his first team debut back in 1973 on the Easter Tour to Gloucester as a fresh-faced back row forward. This was followed by four years at Cardiff College of Education (now Cardiff Met University) where he made 15 appearances, including a WRU Cup game against Cardiff RFC at Arms Park in front of 10,000 spectators. From 1977 to 1990, he amassed a staggering 365 appearances in Henley colours, with six of these as club captain from 1978 to 1981, and then again from 1984 until 1987.Following his playing retirement in 1990, a move into coaching was always on the agenda. At first, he was assistant to Clive Woodward from 1991 to 1994, which saw successive promotions from South West 2 to the National leagues. With Woodward moving onto London Irish, Nigel took over as Head Coach from 1995, with the team continuing their ethos of playing fluid rugby. This culminated with Henley being promoted to the second tier of English Rugby, then known as the Allied Dunbar Premiership 2 in 1999. Highly respected in rugby circles, he eventually took up the role of Director of Rugby in 2013, and oversaw promotions back to National 1 in 2014 and again in 2016.For Nigel, his most proud memories are the 1998/99 season which saw the club beat Bedford (then a Premiership side) in the fourth round of Tetley Bitter Cup. This was followed by a trip to Kingsholm to take on the mighty Gloucester. With 6 coaches full of supporters making the trip down to the West Country, sadly Henley came up short against the Premiership giants, but went out with their heads held high. However, the best achievement that season was securing promotion in April to the second tier of English league rugby.Henley Rugby Club President, Graham Horner paid the following tribute to his former team mate:“Playing mainly in the back row, but known to fill in as hooker when we were desperate, and also appearing as a centre on occasions, Nigel was a player that seemed to spend more time on the floor than on his feet, making tackles and digging out the ball. He was rarely injured, or at least rarely missed a match. He was first team captain twice, on each occasion for three years, and ended his career with 365 first team appearances, 5 more than the previous record holder Tony Hobbs.”“Nigel has represented the club with great dignity and has been an excellent ambassador. He would also be the first to acknowledge the great support he has received from his wife, Maree, and family: support that was obvious when he and Maree joined the club tour to Florida to celebrate their honeymoon!”“There will be a number of opportunities to celebrate Nigel’s contribution to the club, which will be announced in due course. I am sure he will find it impossible to keep away from the club in the years to come, but we all owe him a great debt of gratitude for the hard work he has done on our behalf over so many years.”“A true club man and enjoy your retirement!”


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