Mill Hill RFC receives award from England star at Twickenham
A Luton-based prop who coaches a mixed ability rugby side, runs marathons for charity, is a cornerstone of his team and is also the father of seven has been named Rhino Prop Star 2019.
Thousands of votes were cast in the third Rhino Prop Star competition as Joey Healy of Mill Hill RFC was crowned by former England wing Simon Halliday at half-time during the Varsity Match at Twickenham between Oxford University and Cambridge University.
Joey, who commutes from Luton to his club in north London, was selected for the final three by a judging panel (including England props Ellis Genge and Rocky Clark), from nominated props across the UK. He earned praise for his tireless charity work and helping to make the sport more inclusive through his work with a mixed ability rugby team. Joining him in the final were Alex Wood of Trafford MV RFCC and Fletch Stenniford of Whitehead RFC, the youngest-ever finalist at just 14 years of age.
“I am still in shock and overwhelmed,” says Joey, after his win that saw him win teamwear and equipment for his club. “The day was amazing from start to finish – I was treated like a super star.
“Winning prop star 2019 was a massive shock - I was just happy to be there,” he continues. “As the winner was announced my friends weren’t too happy – half of them voted for Fletch, the other half for Alex! Good job my seven children voted. The real prop star is my wife Jessica, if she didn’t do what she does at home and with the children I wouldn’t have time to play or coach rugby so a big thank you to my wife.”
Joey follows in the footsteps of transgender campaigner and Rotherham prop Verity Smith and Rhiannon Kennedy of Streatham-Croydon RFC. Finalist Alex Wood also enjoyed a special day at the home of English rugby, despite losing out to the Mill Hill prop. “Our highlight was getting to spend ten minutes on the hallowed turf, but also meeting some rugby royalty up in the lounge,” says Alex. “Thanks to all who nominated me and also those in the selection process who felt I deserved to be recognised for my efforts. I love rugby and this only adds to my positive experience.”
Fletch’s mum Natasha, said: “Fletch had the most amazing day! The trophy slept with him the first night and he even strapped it in the seat belt to bring it home!
“His grandparents are so proud of him. His grampy said to him, ‘I played rugby all my life and never achieved anything like this’.”
The campaign was the brainchild of eric, and won the marketing agency the award for Best Use of Social Media at the 2018 CMA Awards. “Prop Star represents everything that is good about sport and, in particular, rugby which should do everything it can to celebrate the amazing characters it has,” says Alex Mead, eric’s content director. “The response continues to reflect just how much love there is for props.”
eric launched the campaign in 2017 to reflect Rhino’s position at the heart of grassroots rugby and has involved some of the biggest names in the sport including Adam Jones, Joe Marler, Jason Leonard, and this year’s judges Genge and Clark.
This year is also set to see the next phase of the Prop Star campaign with new categories being announced in early 2020.
If you’d like to talk to eric about engaging your brand’s audience in different ways, contact Jane Ditcham.