Gillies is handed patron honour

Craig Gillies one of our founders was recently unveiled as the first patron of Worcester Wolves.

The 38-year-old, who is the Sixways outfit’s leading appearance maker with 288 games, is a big supporter of the British Basketball League club and will get a guard of honour from the players before the match against Sheffield Sharks at the University Arena (7.30pm).

Gillies, who stands at 6ft 8ins, retired from professional rugby at the end of the 2012-13 season but has always been a keen enthusiast and currently plays for Worcester Bears Grizzlies in West Midland League Division One.

He said: “To be named as the first patron of the Wolves is a huge honour for me. I am extremely humbled and grateful to be recognised by the club in this way.

“Although I spent 16 years as a professional rugby player, basketball was my first real sporting passion and my early sporting influences and idols came from the game.

“Having been in Worcester for 12 years, it’s important to me to see all of the city’s sporting teams thriving and I’m very much looking forward to this role and strengthening my links with the Wolves.”

Wolves managing director Mick Donovan said: “Since the formation of the Wolves 15 years ago, we have attracted followers who have allegiances with many other sports teams from our region.

“It is fitting that our first patron also has the respect of so many sports fans. We are delighted that Craig has accepted our invitation and feel proud that he will be associated with our club.”

Warriors legend Craig Gillies calls time on his Worcester career

Warriors record appearance-maker and one of the club’s greatest ever players, Craig Gillies, has today announced his decision to finish his playing career at Worcester.

Line-out king Gillies has been a key component of the Worcester pack since moving to Sixways in 2002.

The 37-year-old is one of a rare breed in modern sport having committed himself to the Warriors for over a decade.

Gillies is the leading appearance-maker at Warriors in the modern era with a staggering 288 games in all competitions – a record never likely to be eclipsed.

The giant second row, who has also played at Bath, Richmond and Llanelli, is widely regarded as one of the best line-out operators ever in the top-flight and won England ‘A’ honours in 2000.

“It’s been a difficult decision for me to make and I always knew it would be tough to stop playing, but I am excited by the future and the next stage of my life,” said Gillies.

“Physically I feel I could continue for a few more years. However, an opportunity has been presented to me to look to the future and it truly feels like the time is right for me to make this move.

“I have a health and nutrition business that is rapidly expanding and it is proving already to be hugely successful. It is also a busy time for me as my testimonial committee has a full calendar of events planned over the coming year for which I am extremely grateful.

“I know being a one-club man is a rarity these days, but I do feel like that at Warriors. I have always enjoyed being part of the set-up here and the challenge of putting this club up with the elite. I look forward to continuing my strong relationship with the club.

Over the years a vast number of people have played a crucial part in my career. I would like to thank every one of my team-mates, the coaching staff and support staff that I have worked with. And, of course, the Worcester fans who have been brilliant towards me on every step of my journey.

“A special thank you to Cecil Duckworth for everything he’s done for me personally, for this club and the city. He is an incredible individual who has given so much. Hopefully this season will be a success because no-one deserves it more than him.”

Dean Ryan, director of rugby at Warriors, paid tribute to Gillies’ contribution at Sixways and said: “Craig has been a fantastic servant to Worcester Warriors over the last 11 years. He is the first real Warrior of this club and has given so much to the cause here.

“The values that Craig has illustrated over his time at Warriors are the framework for others to follow. His attitude and application has been outstanding and he has been a role model for so many.

“Craig now has new ventures and opportunities to explore at this stage of his life and so we wish him every success with that and in the future.”

Duckworth praised Gillies for his ‘magnificent contribution’ and ‘total professionalism’ during his playing time at Sixways.

He said: “For many years, Craig was simply the first name on the team sheet and I always remember our first promotion season to the Aviva Premiership when he was immense. I cannot speak more highly of him as a player or as a person.

“Craig will always stand alongside the likes of Tony Windo and Pat Sanderson as true legends at Warriors.

“He will always remain a key part of this club and we will continue to support him as he concentrates on other opportunities away from rugby.”