BURNHAM-ON-SEA Rugby Club has bestowed lifetime membership upon Richard Muskett, who has returned home to New Zealand after 15 years playing for the Stags.

The centre, from New Zealand's South Island, turned up in Somerset in 2005, intending to play for one season before heading back to the other side of the world.

But, says fellow Burnham stalwart Tim Piper, "such was his popularity within the team and his hard style of rugby, that we couldn't wait to get him back for another season".

And so 'just one season' turned into 15 years, during which time he played 271 times for the Stags, winning the Somerset Premier title twice, Somerset 1 once and the Burnham players' player of the season award twice.

He also stepped into the role of head coach for the 2014/15 season, helping the club preserve its Western Counties status for another couple of years.

He and Piper also served as junior coaches together, and so it is only fitting that Muskett receive the lifetime membership award before heading back to New Zealand with his wife Lucy and two children.

Piper explained: "This is the highest honour in our club and is thoroughly deserved for his service to the club as a whole.

"Unfortunately we can't give him and Lucy the send-off they deserve with celebrating his success at our normal club presentation, so I managed to organise a framed shirt of our winning promotion season to award him for his service.

"We cannot thank you enough for your commitment to the club, and the memories, blood, sweat and tears you have given.

"We wish you all the very best for your future, and you will always be welcome back at the club."