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Honorary Graduate's Speech: Mr Dean Richards, MBE, Master of Arts (MA)

Record-breaking rugby player and rugby club director Dean Richards' debut with Leicester Tigers was in Neath in 1982. At his England debut in March 1986 against Ireland at Twickenham he became the first player in 57 years to score two tries during such a debut. In 1989 he toured Australia with the British Lions. During the Leicester versus Barbarians game at Christmas 1995, he became only the second Tigers forward to score 100 tries for the club. Dean Richard has been involved in all Leicester's league title wins - as a player in 1988, as captain in 1995, and as manager in the 1998/1999, 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 seasons. He is the world's most capped No 8. He is currently the Tigers' Director of Rugby. He received his honorary degree on Thursday, February 7 at a University of Leicester postgraduate degree congregation in De Montfort Hall, Leicester. The following is his response to the degree ceremony oration.

"Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Lord Mayor and most distinguished guests, can I just say how honoured I am to receive my degree - and it did come as a most unexpected surprise to me, as it did to Tim. Iíve also got to say that I am a local boy - as Tim is - and I do have fond memories, also of the De Montfort Hall, though slightly different to Tim's.

"I remember coming here in the late seventies to watch Blondie and Duran Duran perform, and, more recently, Peter Pan - this time with my children I hasten to add, although I did enjoy it myself. 

"It seems a far cry and a long time ago when I started playing rugby, when, at St Martin's, just outside of Leicester I was taught initially by a group of three nuns! I surely, surely, didnít think that at that stage, being coached by nuns, that I would get to the level that I did. 

"I do honestly believe that, looking back, everything I learnt about rugby was taught to me by Sister Lewis, Sister Llewellyn and Sister Aiden. Iíve played rugby and enjoyed myself through my twenty years' involvement at the top level and I find it incredible to find myself standing here in front of you. 

"I actually feel sorry for you  - the graduates out there. Youíve been taught hard for the last three or four years or however long your degree has taken you, and I have enjoyed myself for the last twenty years! Congratulations on your goal setting and on achieving what you have achieved. 

"For myself, when I started playing, I always wanted to be the 'biggest building on the block' and there are always two ways of achieving that - you either build on what you have already or you knock everybody down to size and you become the 'biggest building on the block'. For myself I chose the way which I thought was the hardest and that is to build on what Iíd got. 

For you out there now, you should build on what youíve got - your degrees that youíve just got now  - great stepping stones. As was said earlier, had I stayed on at school a little bit longer and not failed my A-levels and disappeared to France before the results came out, I probably would have been in your shoes a while ago. But congratulations to you all, and can I say thank you very much indeed. And to Tim - itís a great honour to receive it at the same time as yourself. Thank you very much."

February 2002    

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Last updated: 28 October 2002 17:00
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
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