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Cheyne Pays Tribute To Fletcher

Cheyne Pays Tribute To Fletcher

Media Admin16 Apr 2020 - 18:00
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England Deaf Rugby captain, Luke Cheyne, has paid tribute to the outstanding impact of the outgoing EDRU Head Coach, Sean Fletcher.

Reflecting on the dramatic changes EDRU have experienced since 2014, Cheyne said

“Fletch’s first game as part of the EDRU coaching staff coincided with my international debut at Cardiff Arms Park in January 2014. We were well and truly humbled by a world-class Wales Deaf side, whist we began an entire re-build having been unable to even raise a side the year previous. My first impressions of Fletch were that he was a big, horrible, scouse bloke who said exactly what he thought and gave it to you straight but it turned out that he actually had a lot more to him than that. He is still a big, horrible, scouse bloke who says exactly what he thinks and gives it to you straight, but he’s also a highly intelligent, passionate man with an exceeding amount of compassion for the people he works with. Not only that, but he also puts a huge amount of emphasis on family, be that his own or the EDRU family he led.

Fletcher, known amongst the squad for his honesty and direct coaching nature, also oversaw the development of the worlds’ first women’s deaf international squad, who this year made history with the fixture over a Welsh Deaf Barbarians team and also toured Australia in 2018, winning the inaugural women’s Deaf 7s title, with a resounding 5-0 series victory over Australia.

Cheyne continued “I remember Fletch’s 'heated' discussions with the forward packs at half-time during those early years and early demolitions at the hands of Wales Deaf. He spoke passionately about representing our country, about representing ourselves and our families and about ensuring that we left the field 40 minutes later with absolutely nothing left to give. It was clear from the very outset that Fletch wouldn’t settle for anything less than 100% and that representing England Deaf was an honour and a privilege that only those who were willing to commit every ounce of themselves should be given the opportunity to do so.

When Fletch was made Head Coach later in 2014, he put together a presentation that clearly outlined his ambitions for England Deaf. Some of the things he included were:

• Play regular international fixtures against top class opposition
• Play international fixtures abroad
• Win the Broadstreet Cup with Home and Away victories

It is fair to say that he over delivered on all of those those ambitions.

Some of the highlights for me as a player certainly include the series win over New Zealand in 2017, our trips overseas to play against Italy in 2015 and the winning fixture over the full international Bulgaria side three years later. However top of the pile will be the fortnight we spent out in Sydney for the World Deaf 7s tournament in 2018.”

Whilst England Men finished that tournament with a silver medal and came so close to winning the tournament, it is off the pitch that Cheyne holds the fondest memories.

“Everyone who toured Australia will say the same. It was an unforgettable trip which Fletch, along with EDRU Chair, Gina, working tirelessly to make it a huge success. My family and I have memories of Fletch going on his walks around the ground with my daughter on his shoulders, bouncing his game play ideas and tactics with Aiva who was then just 6 years old. No doubt she suggested that he should drop his skipper but thankfully Fletch trusted his judgement and kept me in the team.”

Fletcher, who will go down as the most successful England Deaf Rugby coach to date, will begin the new season as Head Coach at Firwood Waterloo in Liverpool and Cheyne went on to thank Sean for the role he held in developing his own game “It was Fletch who asked me to be his captain. He has without doubt fuelled my love for the game over recent years and has inspired so many of us to continually strive for improvement on every level."

"He has changed the landscape of what is possible for Deaf Rugby players and has set the benchmark of what can be achieved in international deaf rugby. Whilst he will leave a huge hole in EDRU that will be tough to fill, I have no doubt that everyone involved will continue to drive forward the standards the Fletch set so highly.

His new role at Firwood Waterloo will allow him to spend more, valuable time at home with his wonderful family, Janet, Emily and Iona, but whilst Fletch’s departure is England Deaf’s loss, it is certainly Waterloo’s gain and I look forward to following their success next season and beyond.”


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