‘Tank’ recognised with RPA Blyth Spirit Award
The award is presented annually to an individual or group showing remarkable courage in the face of adversity, and is voted for by the RPA Players’ Board.
Van-Zandvliet, who was a Premiership winner as a player with the Falcons back in 1998, is fighting back following last year’s diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour and cancer in his kidneys and liver, taking part in a number of fundraising initiatives.
Newcastle Falcons stars of yesteryear turned out for a benefit game last summer as part of a concerted effort to raise money and awareness for Paul’s fight, with supporters showing their appreciation for a man famed for his abrasive playing style.
Upon hearing of his award, in association with Towergate Insurance, the North East native said: “Since being diagnosed with my illness I’ve been overwhelmed by support from Restart Rugby and the wider rugby community.
“It has meant everything to me and my family. Doing charity work has been like therapy and has allowed me to put something back into the game I love, but to be recognised with the Blyth Spirit award is a true honour.”
Damian Hopley, RPA Group CEO, said: “Paul was always a formidable competitor on the field and he has shown that same battling spirit and tenacity while facing his illness.
“His positive, can-do attitude in the face of such difficult circumstances has been nothing short of remarkable.
“He has been an inspiration to those around him and he received a unanimous vote from the RPA Management Board as a worthy recipient of the Blyth Spirit award.”