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Honours for Best, Murray and Noble

16 June 2017 National Sport


Dick Greenwood, Heather Stanning, John Conteh and Steven Davis also recognised

Last Updated: 16/06/17 10:56pm

Rory Best, pictured in action for Ireland, has been awarded an OBE

Rory Best, pictured in action for Ireland, has been awarded an OBE

Rory Best, Judy Murray and Brian Noble are among a number of UK sportsmen and women to be recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Best, from Armagh, has earned more than 100 caps for Ireland with whom he has been part of three Six Nations Championship-winning squads.

And the 34-year-old has dedicated his OBE to the hundreds of people he believes have helped him to carve out a distinguished international rugby career.

He said: “To be recognised for contributing to a sport, for someone to feel I’m worthy of being nominated, and then to be deemed worthy, it’s quite incredible.

“My parents were obviously delighted. My mum and dad actually both have MBEs, my dad for agriculture and my mum for services to the public sector.

“It’s not just a reflection of my rugby ability. There are better players than me, but it’s also hopefully a reflection of the person you are.

“It would be humbling to think that you can be considered more than just being able to play rugby.”

Murray, the mother of world No 1 tennis player Andy, is also awarded an OBE for services to tennis, women in sport and charity.

The 57-year-old has worked tirelessly to grow the sport in Britain. Murray’s passion is getting more women and girls involved in tennis and sport in general.

In 2014, she launched Miss-Hits, a fun way of introducing tennis to young girls, and the programme is expanding around the world.

Judy Murray gets an OBE for services to tennis

Judy Murray gets an OBE for services to tennis

Judy Murray gets an OBE for services to tennis

Murray also heads up the Lawn Tennis Association’s She Rallies initiative to boost the female coaching workforce, while her Tennis on the Road programme teaches the sport in deprived areas across Scotland.

A one-time aspiring professional player, Murray began to coach seriously when her sons took up the sport.

She was also non-playing captain of Great Britain’s Fed Cup team for five years from 2011.

Yorkshireman Noble has been a key figure in rugby league for more than three decades and is awarded an MBE.

The former Bradford and Wakefield player also captained Great Britain in a Test series Down Under, before becoming a successful coach.

Brian Noble has spent more than 30 years in rugby league

Brian Noble has spent more than 30 years in rugby league

Brian Noble has spent more than 30 years in rugby league

The 56-year-old former hooker guided the Bulls to three Grand Final successes and as many World Club Challenge victories. His honour is for services to rugby league and charity.

Others named on Saturday include former England rugby union coach Dick Greenwood, now 75 and father of World Cup winner and pundit Will; double Olympic rowing champion Heather Stanning; ex-world light-heavyweight boxing champion John Conteh; and Northern Ireland footballer Steven Davis, the captain of Premier League side Southampton.

Greenwood and Stanning receive OBEs, while there are MBEs for Conteh and Davis.

Former WBC world light-heavyweight champion John Conteh pictured in November 1975

Former WBC world light-heavyweight champion John Conteh pictured in November 1975

Former WBC world light-heavyweight champion John Conteh pictured in November 1975

Greenwood made five Test appearances for England between 1966 and 1969, before becoming head coach of the national team from 1983 to 1985.

He played flanker for Waterloo and Preston Grasshoppers among others, while captaining Lancashire and representing Cambridge University.

Greenwood said: “I’m a rugby man and rugby has been my lifelong passion. It is a great team game, so I am above all a team player, and my debt is to all my team-mates who have supported me through the years.

“It’s all the people I’ve played with and worked with over all these years who have acted as the enabling factor, which is a source of great joy and pride to me.”

As for the 66-year-old Merseysider Conteh, world champion between 1974 and 1978, he said: “I never even thought about the possibility of getting an honour. Where I grew up the only letters you got were from the DHSS.”

Two-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea receives an MBE for services to motorcycle racing.

Among other OBE recipients are Bill Furniss (swimming) and Laura Smith (disability sports), while there are MBEs for Andy Banks (diving), John Beresford (Show Racism the Red Card), Pam Butcher (table tennis), Natalie Gilmour (women’s rugby league), Scott Hann (gymnastics), Danny Kerry (hockey) and Angie Malone (wheelchair curling).


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