Thinus Delport – Springboks and Gloucester Rugby
With an impressive playing career, in which he collected 18 caps, Thinus Delport has a wealth of professional experience. However he also boasts an impressive CV beyond his days as an outstanding professional player, holding roles as Sport Athlete mentor with the Youth Sport Trust and Sky Sports Living. We are delighted to have him with us as an ambassador.
Thinus’ long and extensive playing career took him from South Africa, the UK, and Japan. His playing career began in 1997, when he made his senior debut playing in South Africa’s Super 12. He made his international debut the same year – on the Springboks’ 1997 European tour, with his test debut coming three years later, against Canada in 200. For many British fans, he will also be remembered for a playing career at Gloucester (in which he won the 2003 Powergen Cup Final in his debut season) and a 4 year spell at Worcester, where he made 109 appearances. Finishing his playing career with Japanese side Kobelco Steelers, he has competed against some of the world’s greatest rugby players on 3 separate continents.
At the end of his playing career, he continued to take on new challenges and became a commentator for Sky Sports, where he covers Southern Hemisphere rugby. However he is also a passionate advocate of developing young athletes, and has dedicated a significant amount of his own time to mentoring young athletes with the Youth Sports Trust and Sky Sports Living.
Delport epitomises the values held at the core of military service. Having dealt with the social pressure of moving from a small farming community to a big city environment early in his career, he developed the mental toughness to drive himself to achieve at the highest level. His focus, determination and passion for rugby mark him as an impressive individual in every respect, and an ideal ambassador for Armed Forces Rugby.
Non Evans – Wales International: Rugby, Judo, Weightlifting and Freestyle Wrestling
Non Evans is a multisport legend, having competed internationally in four different sports: rugby union, judo, weightlifting and freestyle wrestling. Over the course of her sporting career, she won the silver medal at both the 1992 and 1996 Commonwealth Judo Championships and competed for wales at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. That same year, she also became the first woman to compete in two sports at the same games – competing in the under-63 kg class in weightlifting. In 2010, as a weightlifter she placed 2nd in the under-59 kg class at the British Championships and earned selection for the Welsh team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, becoming the first woman ever to compete in three sports at the Commonwealth Games.
As a rugby player, she stands out as one of the greats of the women’s game. Making her debut for Wales against Scotland in 1996, she subsequently collected a total of 87 international caps. She is Wales and the World all-time leading points scorer, racking up a total of 64 international tries – a world record for Men and Women’s rugby.
Evans distinguishes herself as an athlete and an icon of women’s rugby. An inspiration to everyone at UKAF and with a proven record of achieving sporting success at the highest level over many years, we are delighted to have her on our team.
Ryan Grant – British Lions and Scotland Rugby
Educated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Grant is a former Royal Signals man, serving as an Area System Operator from 2002 to 2005. Clearly a star in the making, during his time in the Army he played for what was then the Combined Services’ Under-21 team. Grant scored the clinching try for the Army in their 23-13 victory against the Royal Navy at Portsmouth in 2005, a result that secured the Inter-Services Under-21 Championship for his team.
Grant has had a superb professional career. He made his Scotland debut in the first Test of the 2012 summer tour, starting in a 9-6 victory over Australia in New South Wales and continued to start in the further two wins over Fiji and Samoa. Two appearances in the Autumn Tests followed later that year before starting in each of Scotland’s 2013 RBS 6 Nations matches. He then earned a call up to the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour of Australia before returning to feature in all of Scotland's Autumn Test matches, and starting each of the following year's RBS 6 Nations matches once again.
Grant's performances in the following season, which saw him help Glasgow Warriors to the PRO12 title, on top of a further five appearances for his country, were enough to secure a place in the 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup 2015, featuring twice, as a replacement and as the starting prop in the Pool wins over USA and Japan respectively.
A winner in every respect, Grant embodies the commitment to excellence which drives our players and defines those selected to play UKAF Rugby.
Peter Reed OBE – Olympic and World Gold Medalist Rower
Lt Pete Reed OBE RN is a former Oxford Blue and is one of the most decorated rowers ever in the GB Rowing Team. He has also won three olympic golds medals and eight medals, five gold and three silver, at the World Rowing Championships during an illustrious career. His three Olympic Golds span three Olympiads. In Beijing he won gold in the Coxless Four which was successfully defended at the London Games. In 2016 he switched to the Men's eight and won his third gold in Rio de Janeiro.
Awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year’s Honours list and an OBE in 2017, Reed has the world’s largest recorded lung capacity of 11.68 litres, almost twice the normal average. When he was tested by the Institute of Naval Medicine in 2009, he blasted the pointer off the graph at the first attempt. He was born in Seattle in the United States but his family moved to England several months later. A mechanical engineer, Reed finished his master’s degree at Oxford University in 2005 and represented the Dark Blues in two Boat Races. He was named as both the Royal Navy and Combined Services Sportsman of the Year in 2005 and received the prestigious British Olympic Association Male Olympic Athlete award in 2014.
Semesa Rokoduguni – England and Bath Rugby
Semesa Rokoduguni is a Lance Corporal and reconnaissance tank soldier of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, a Bath Rugby star and an England international. Having made his breakthrough with Bath in the 2013/14 season (in which he scored several crowd-pleasing tries) he gained his first full England cap against the All Blacks at Twickenham in 2014 – the first serving British soldier to play for England since Tim Rodber in 1999.
Rokoduguni has served in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK in 2011 and he continues to make a decisive contribution to Service rugby today. Notably, he shone in a Man of the Match winning performance for the Army against the RAF at Twickenham that sore him collect a tally of 3 tries. His father, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather all served in the military – in short, Service rugby is in his blood!
Ben Ryan – Fiji and England Rugby 7s 2016 Olympic Gold Medal
Ben Ryan coached the Fiji Olympic Rugby 7s team to an Olympic Gold medal in 2016, the high point in a glittering 13 year coaching career which has included 2 sevens world series titles and a Dubai 7s title. He has also coached the England sevens team from 2007-2013.
Since the well documented Olympic win, Ryan has been very active as a much in demand coaching consultant across a number of sports. Earlier this year he accepted a role with the Welsh Rugby Union, where his talents in all aspects of delivering performance will be fully utilised. The role includes involvement with all of Wales’ representative teams (except for the Senior XV) which includes the Wales Women squad along with their Service players Charlotte Murray, Sian William (both RAF) and Gemma Rowland (Army). His support for UKAF Rugby in an ambassadorial role is invaluable and brings experience of success at the highest level of rugby to the UKAF team.
Heather Stanning – Double Olympic Gold Medalist, Rowing
A Major in the Royal Artillery, Double Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Stanning truly understands the essence of Service life and sport. Heather sculled her way into the history books at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games, with Gold Medal winning performances that made her (alongside partner Helen Glover) a member of the first-ever female rowing pair to win and defend an Olympic title. She also holds, again with Helen Glover, the record of World Best Time in the Women’s Coxless Pairs. Unbeaten since 2011 and with a host of championships to her name she was awarded the MBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List. A firm supporter of Armed Forces Rugby who has previously conducted the shirt presentation for the Women’s team, Stanning is an outstanding role model for our athletes.
Amy Williams – Olympic Gold Medalist, Skeleton Bob
Amy Williams skidded and slid into public view with her gold-medal-winning skeleton-bob race at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Still an athlete, she also works in television, as a motivational speaker, and holds several ambassadorial roles – including with UK Armed Forces Rugby. Awarded the MBE in the Queen’s 2010 birthday honours list, she was also the first-ever female Freeman of Bath. She has been shortlisted for Sports Personality of the Year and received the Daily Mail’s Ian Woolridge Award. Well-known for television appearances on shows including The Jump, The Gadget Show and On the Road with Amy Williams, Amy Brings exceptional experience and a winning mentality to the UKAF team.