Tributes paid to popular Plymouth coach and school teacher

03 Oct 2020 12:06 | Devon RFU

THE rugby community are paying tribute to long-standing Plymouth coach and school teacher Howell Phillips.

Howell passed away on Thursday after a four-year battle with cancer.

He had a big influence on lots of Plymouth and Devon rugby players.

As a teacher, he spent 37 years working at St Boniface School, where he helped introduce thousands of youngsters to rugby and many went on to play professionally, like Luke and Tom Arscott, Jack Arnott, Chris Lowrie, Jack Gilding and Jake Murphy. He was also involved with Devon Schools.

Luke Arscott, a County Championship winner with Devon, said: “What an absolute gent, never let you get too big for your boots.”  

Welshman Howell was also heavily involved in club rugby and coached Plymouth Argaum, OPMs and Plympton Victoria.

He also played for Argaum as a player in the 1970s and 80s, having moved to Devon when The College of St Mark & St John (now known as Plymouth Marjon University) relocated to Plymouth from London.

Argaum secretary Richard Belli said: “On a bitter November night almost 30 years ago, when I ventured on to a windswept Bickleigh Down for my first training session at the club, Howell's mellifluous Porth tones were barking out rugby common sense and I knew I'd come to the right place!

“I and many others across the regional rugby community owe a huge debt of gratitude to Howell.” 

Recently his son, Rhys, who is also a teacher and plays for OPMs, took part in a ‘Triple H’ challenge from Plymouth to Snowdon on bike and foot and raised more than £10,000 for Bone Cancer Research Trust to honour his dad.

OPMs held a special virtual drink to honour his memory on Friday night.

OPMs described his as ‘a man known by many and an absolute legend to the rugby community’.

The thoughts of everyone at Devon RFU go to Howell’s family and friends.