24/04/24 | General

Gavin Woods – playing stalwart at Lymm takes his final bow

Author: Simon Plumb


Front row forward and veteran prop Gavin Woods announced his intention to hang up his boots at the end of the current season, away at Wharfedale. We asked him a few questions about his long rugby and illustrious career and here are a few stats about his playing career:

217 games – Chester

132 games – Lymm

110 games – Caldy

100 games – Burnage, Macclesfield and Stockport

38 games – Cheshire County

5 games – England Counties

Q: When and where did you start playing rugby?

A: I started playing rugby at U8s at Chester (1990). My mum took me down as she was tired of me bashing around the house. I played up an age group through Juniors and Colts which, in the long run I think, helped me out as I moved into senior and representative rugby.

There was no AGP or even a modern clubhouse at Chester in those days so it was heavy cotton shirts and mud. We had a good Colts team at Chester and I have memories of playing against Lymm back in those days. I played my first 1st XV game at 17 in the back row at Birkenhead Park and then carried on my senior rugby form there, converting to prop around 2002 (for obvious reasons).

I was also fortunate enough to meet a few Lymm legends in the Cheshire U20s side with Adam Fletcher, Pete Millachip and Dave Strettle (possibly a few others) joining me in that team.

Q: It has been a long and illustrious career. What is your fondest memory?

A: I have fond memories of playing at all the clubs I’ve played at (there have been a few), but I’ve only ever been promoted once so winning the league with Lymm stands out.

I’ve been lucky enough to represent Cheshire 1st XV in county finals at Twickenham which although the stadium wasn’t all that full was still an exhilarating experience.

Possibly my proudest moments were representing England Counties in two tours of Canada and Spain, playing alongside some old heads and some future Premiership stars.

As a rugby player I’ve always been a bit of a ‘yes man’ meaning that whenever anyone has asked me to play I’ve always tended to say yes, leading me to play 7s for the Wooden Spoon charity, 10s for the Anti-Assassins and Beach 5s for the Championship Winning Lymm Geriaticos.

I have great memories of all the people and players I have met along the way and hopefully some more memories to create as I move into retirement.

Q: What brought you to Lymm?

A: My wife and I met at university in Manchester and we set up home and family there whilst I trained as a teacher and she trained in social work.

Ultimately the decision to move out of Manchester to Lymm was made because my wife got a job in Warrington and due to an unfortunate attempted burglary on our house at the time. The burglary was only thwarted because my wife, who was feeding our second child, saw the intruders and shouted at me as I was in bed. I jumped out of bed, landed in a wash basket cutting my foot, and charged out of the house screaming in pain in just my boxers. The burglars were scared and scarred for life, but the damage was done, so we moved to Lymm.

Q: We’ve had some big improvements and success here, including promotion to National 2, since you joined. What has changed in your time here?

A: Since I joined Lymm some six seasons ago we have gone from strength to strength. I think it took a while for our new pattern and style of play to develop and for players to learn and be confident in it, but ultimately this is why we have been successful over the past 2-3 seasons.

The coaches, Adam Fletcher, Andy Davies and Tom Bray have been drilling and tweaking how we play through this time and hopefully I have been able to add my knowledge and bulk to the set piece over the last two seasons.

Q: How do you feel about hanging up your boots?

A: To be honest I feel a bit apprehensive. I’m looking forward to, and dreading, it in equal amounts. I think what will probably happen is that by the time September comes around my family will have had enough of me and send me out to play for the 2s or 3s to stop me from bashing around the house.

I’ve asked DoR Adam Fletcher to keep me registered so if the team needs me all he has to do is shine a bull shaped light into the sky on a Friday night and the Thelwall Parish will answer his call.

Q: You are a notable regular on Sunday mornings, coaching the youngsters. Do you enjoy that and will you keep it going?

A: I will be continuing to coach my son’s team, which I really enjoy. They are just starting to get to grips with some of the more complex aspects of the game and we’ll be moving into some more position-based play next season which is more up my street.

I’ve also been having to learn the rules of netball which my daughter plays. There are no scrums in netball which is just a joke.

Q: Will you coach just the youngsters or would you like to continue to coach the senior squad, or specifically front rows, for example?

A: I have been coaching the forwards in terms of set piece for the last two seasons, but I will be stepping back from this role as well as I don’t feel that I will be able to manage coaching and not playing at this point.

I would definitely like to continue my coaching at senior level in the future, but for the moment I’ll be concentrating on the kids.

Q: The game is in a state of flux currently, both losing players and allegedly not attracting new ones. Do you have a view on where it is heading?

A: As with most things I think rugby may just be in a difficult phase, possibly mirroring the issues we find in general day-to-day life. My hope is that with clubs like Lymm pushing for further development and promotion of the grassroots game, rugby can move into a more fruitful phase. Really this will depend on whether we can diversify rugby’s governance putting in place a more sustainable bottom-up approach.

Q: Do you think the current Lymm squad belongs in this league? Will we struggle against semi-pro teams or do you think we are moving towards parity?

A: I think Lymm definitely belongs at this level, and shows that you can maintain standards at this level without breaking the bank or even without having a bank at all. I have seen a lot of clubs come and go so the hope is that Lymm can build on what we have achieved over the past 2-3 seasons and continue to promote our ethos, attitude and style of play.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Lymm Rugby Club for their help and support and for giving me the opportunity to keep my playing career going for a lot longer than I ever thought was possible. Please don’t see this as a goodbye, just as an excuse why I don’t have to do pre-season.

Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher had this to say:

‘Gav is an absolute legend of the game. His stats speak for themselves. To play this amount of games at the level he has is so rare.

‘I played with Gav many moons ago for Cheshire 20s. It was obvious then he was going to be a class player. He has put a lot into county rugby over the years and to have Gav play over 100 games for Lymm is amazing.

‘We are lucky to have him. His work ethic and commitment to Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday is unmatched. It’s been an absolute pleasure!’

Andy Davies, Head Coach, was equally full of praise:

Gav epitomises how a rugby player should conduct themselves. To be playing until the age he is and to get as many appearances in National League Rugby as he has, is truly a remarkable feat and one that will go down in the history books.

There will be lots of talk about the longevity of his career but let’s not forget about his quality on the pitch. He is a tremendous player who, as a prop, can do it all, and has a rugby IQ high enough to get into Rugby Mensa. You don’t get to that many appearances in National League Rugby, and for Cheshire, by chance.

He has played such an integral role in his time at Lymm that I and the rest of the squad will miss him greatly. His impact at the club will carry on though, as I will be using Gav as a leading example to any young player, in how to conduct yourself on and off the pitch for years to come.

Thank you for everything Gav!


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