World Cup-winning coach Gary Street in hospital as family launch fundraiser

Gary Street (right) led England to a World Cup triumph in 2014  (Getty Images)
Gary Street (right) led England to a World Cup triumph in 2014 (Getty Images)

A fundraiser has been launched in support of Gary Street, who guided England’s women to victory at the 2014, with the rugby coach in hospital after suffering a stroke.

Street underwent quadruple bypass surgery last August, but complications during the process led to four weeks in intensive care and paralysis down one side of his body.

The former England head coach was left unable to speak and has had to learn how to walk again, spending five months in four different hospitals.

With a discharge now under consideration, Street’s wife, Helen, and two sons have launched an appeal for help from the rugby community to support his recovery.

“The future is uncertain,” Helen wrote in a GoFundMe appeal that has already raised more than £15,000. “While he has surpassed doctors’ expectations, the chance of full recovery remains unknown. Daily intensive physiotherapy, along with speech and occupational therapy, is essential to continue his progress.

Gary Street (right) and Graham Smith departed the RFU in 2015 (Getty Images)
Gary Street (right) and Graham Smith departed the RFU in 2015 (Getty Images)

“Upon discharge, he faces a two-year wait for speech therapy and a four-month wait for physiotherapy. That’s why I am reaching out to the rugby family to rally around and help fund these services so that Gary’s relentless fight for recovery can continue immediately as he leaves the hospital. Additionally, funds raised will contribute towards ensuring Gary can become as independent as possible with any further equipment needed and home adjustments as necessary.

“Gary has helped people in many different walks of life and has made meaningful connections with so many, dedicating his time to supporting various charities. This is evident in the outpouring of love and support he has received from far and wide during these difficult months. If you can practically show this love and support, you can make a real difference and give Gary every chance of rebuilding and regaining the life he once had.”

The immensely popular Street spent nearly eight years as England head coach before leaving in early 2015 alongside assistant Graham Smith, just six months after the pair had guided the side to World Cup triumph in France.

He subsequently joined Harlequins, working both with their pioneering women’s side and within the club’s academy structure.

A number of current and former England players have sent their support to Street.

“Words can’t explain the impact Gary has had. His love for the game to help support and develop players and teams is incredible,” said Sarah Hunter, vice-captain in 2014 and the Red Roses’ most-capped ever player said. “He has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way through the power of rugby (and a joke or two!). His skill to understand you on a personal level, to care for you and look after you, is his super strength.

“He has this incredible ability to get the best out of people and I will be eternally grateful for everything he has done for me on and off the pitch. It’s now our turn as the rugby family to support and care for Gary as he has done for so many of us over the years.”

Conor O’Shea, the RFU’s executive director of performance rugby, added: “Gary Street has been outstanding in his work with rugby for women and girls, coaching and mentoring young players and taking many to the very top of the game.

“In 2014 the team he led as head coach lifted the Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy, four years beyond an agonising 13-10 final loss to New Zealand at the Twickenham Stoop.

“He said that he and his players were determined to win next time by putting in four years’ hard work. Much of that work was Gary’s and he deserved the many accolades received. He was fundamental in the development of many of our most successful Red Roses and he would turn out to help everyone who asked, from local youngsters to mixed ability coaching sessions.

“I know that the rugby family will be determined to help Gary and his family, just as he has helped and inspired others.”

To donate to the GoFundMe fundraiser in support of Gary Street, click here