DAN Nulty, double award winner at their prize presentation at the Stansfield Arms, reckons that Old Grovians can finish in the top four next season in Yorkshire Division Two.

Former head coach Nulty, who was running the club almost single-handedly last season before the appointment of his successor Andy Hinchliffe at Christmas, said: “I am really confident about next season, although I think that we will have a traditional Old Grovians’ slow start given that the cricket season overlaps a little bit with the rugby season.

“We are very fortunate to have some very talented sportsmen in our group who can play all manner of sports, but in my opinion there will not be a more talented squad in Yorkshire Division Two next season than ours.

“If the lads switch on, if they train and if they fight for things, plus the additions that we hope to make to the squad, we will be pushing up there.

“From the end of September onwards we will be a very difficult team to beat and I will be disappointed if we don’t finish in the top four.”

Nulty, who has now taken over the role of club secretary, added: “We have a register of lads that we can draw on who are willing to play the odd game but don’t want to commit to 15 to 20 games a season.”

He won the club’s Tracy Brown Memorial Award for embodying the spirit of rugby and also received the Bramwell Trophy from club president Tony Bramwell for “running the club in a quiet and efficient manner”.

“It is embarrassing but gratifying to pick up these trophies because I have not done what I have done to win awards,” said Nulty.

“I have done it because I love rugby, love the players and love the grass roots. I love the fact that it is just a group of lads who want to go out and play rugby the right way but have a good time afterwards.

“As a coach you just try and facilitate it and give them as much of a structure as you can to try and enjoy it.

“The fact that you come away after doing a few years and winning a few awards is a nice little touch.

“Genuinely the awards are both the same in value to me. The Tracy Brown award is really special, because Ben Brown and his family are the heartbeat of the club, and unexpected, and the Bramwell Trophy was an award that the school (Woodhouse Grove) don’t give any more but has a lot of history and I was a pupil at the school.

“To be recognised for putting a lot of work in for free is nice but there are a lot of people up and down the county who do exactly the same as me and don’t get recognition, so I am grateful that it is me this year.”

Nulty said of his successor: “When Andy came in as head coach around Christmas time I decided to take a back seat and let him get on with it, but the transition period was better than I could have imagined.

“Andy has brought us a drive to want to be better. He also brings enthusiasm and quality as he has been doing a lot of work with the young player pathway group at Yorkshire Carnegie and he has some solid ideas to bring the club forward.”

Matt Gaffney, part of Old Grovians’ rugby management group alongside John Hinchliffe, was humbled to win the Volunteer of the Year award on behalf of the club at the Yorkshire RFU Volunteers’ luncheon at Bradford & Bingley RUFC in May.

He said: “Dan was virtually running the club on his own at the start of last season, and that is impossible to do for one man.

“I said that I cannot coach any more but I will try and help in the background with what I can whenever I can.

“There is a school over there that produce some incredibly talented players and you just want to give them a chance to play open-age rugby, and we – myself and John - couldn’t let that die, and getting Andy Hinchliffe from Ilkley was unbelievable for us.”