The finalists for Rhino's Prop Star competition have been revealed after a panel of judges including propping legends Jason Leonard, Adam Jones and Rochelle Clark assessed entries from across the UK and Europe.
Rhino's search to find the greatest grassroots prop began back in March and has attracted nominations from all corners of the game as rugby clubs proved eager to celebrate their No.1s and No.3s.
From a long-list of more than 40 nominees, English legends Leonard and Clark, together with Welsh hero Jones decided on the following prop stars who will go to a public vote later this month.
James Cleverly, Beckenham RFC
Nominated by the charity CASPA, James is not only a frontrow stalwart and junior coach for his club Beckenham RFC, but also uses the club to raise funds and put on activities and training days for children with autism. Described as a 'hairy legend among men'.
Jon Paul Hardman, Bolton RFC
From taking on the role of senior chairman, to raising vital funds for new pitches, setting up charity sevens events and coaching everyone from colts to school children, there's little this prop hasn't done. Although perhaps his greatest achievement was getting fellow frontrowers to crossfit classes. 'Fat Panda' is Bolton's 'go-to guy'.
Rhiannon Kennedy, Streatham-Croydon RFC
When the bar manager and groundsman left the club, player, junior scrum coach and admin guru Rhiannon stepped in. Not only taking over both roles, but also moving into the clubhouse – and while holding down a full-time job too.
Commenting on the trio of Prop Stars, judge Adam Jones said: “I was overwhelmed with the amount of great entries – but not surprised, I’ve always known props are something special, a real different breed. It was really hard to cut it down to just three but in Rhiannon, Jon and James we have three worthy winners.”
Voting on the three finalists will begin w/c 20 November 2017 with the winner being announced at The Varsity Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University at Twickenham on 7 December 2017. Keep an eye on Rhino social channels for updates.