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Vikings player’s pitchside proposal swaps rugby diamonds for engagement ring

PUBLISHED: 13:13 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:59 26 March 2019

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A north Norfolk rugby player has put the ‘prop’ in proposal after he swapped crouching in a scrum for getting down on one knee.

North Walsham prop Laclan Brown-Bates proposes on the touchline at Scottow on Saturday Picture: HYWEL JONESNorth Walsham prop Laclan Brown-Bates proposes on the touchline at Scottow on Saturday Picture: HYWEL JONES

North Walsham Vikings forward Lachlan Brown-Bates, 22, popped the question to fiancée Sarah Crooks, 19, after the side’s 75-5 weekend home win, before celebrating with champagne and posing for a team photo.

Miss Crooks, from Sprowston, said her Australian fiancé’s pitch-side proposal was a total surprise.

She said: “I didn’t have any idea.

“It was a really good game and he always come up and talks to me but he was being really awkward.

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates proposes to girlfriend Sarah Crooks at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: Sarah CrooksNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates proposes to girlfriend Sarah Crooks at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: Sarah Crooks

“He just got down on one knee and said ‘what do you reckon?’

“I was so shocked. Everyone was clapping and cheering and all these people were coming up to us.

“I didn’t think he’d do it in public - it was really unexpected.”

The pair, who live in Norwich, have been together for a year-and-a-half, after meeting in October 2017 through a rugby-playing friend of Miss Crooks’ brother.

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Miss Crooks, who works at a pub in Broadland, said: “They were training in the same place. I was talking to my brother’s friend, and Lachlan asked ‘who’s that?’”

She added: “We got together half-way through the December and we moved into our own flat in Norwich about six months ago.”

And Mr Brown-Bates, who is about to finish his second season as a loose-head prop, added: “I bought the ring and was umming and ahhing about when to do it, so I decided to get it over and done.”

READ MORE: North Walsham win 75-5 in a match reduced to 60 minutes

He added: “I gave it to one of my mates to bring me after the game.

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The whole idea - not the thought she’d say no - scared me.

“The night before I don’t think I slept at all.”

And Miss Crooks, originally from New Zealand, said the couple plan to stay in Norfolk for now.

She said: “We’re now trying to work out his visa and hope to stay here for the near future.

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates proposes to girlfriend Sarah Crooks at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: Sarah CrooksNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates proposes to girlfriend Sarah Crooks at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: Sarah Crooks

“I moved here when I was one - so it’s quite weird how we met.”

And Mr Brown-Bates, from Gladstone, in Queensland, added: “It’s a small world.”

The couple celebrated the news, which came after the hour-long Amersham & Chiltern match on Saturday, March 23, with Miss Crooks family, and said they are deciding where to get married.

“He keeps talking about the club but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Miss Crooks’ said.

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But she added she would be “very shocked” if they didn’t try to fit some rugby-themed details into their big day.

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorth Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates and his fiancée Sarah Crooks, after Lachlan proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sarah Crooks' engagement ring, after North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSarah Crooks' engagement ring, after North Walsham rugby player Lachlan Brown-Bates proposed at the end of his match on Saturday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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