The 2016 RFU President’s Awards winners have been announced following a record number of entries across the ten categories this year.
The annual awards recognise and reward outstanding rugby volunteers from clubs across England.
80 guests attended this year’s President’s Awards which took place at Twickenham Stadium prior to England’s match against Wales in the Old Mutual Wealth Cup.
Ranging from community engagement to play recruitment, the ten categories aim to encapsulate the wide range of work undertaken by club volunteers in England.
“Having literally grown up within the sport of rugby, I am tremendously grateful to all those who gave me the opportunities that I have enjoyed,” said RFU President Jason Leonard who presented each of the winners with their awards.
“Across the game thousands of volunteers continue to freely give up their time so that others might play. These volunteers are literally worth their weight in gold and rugby would not function without them."
The Winners in the President's Awards 2016 categories are as follows:
The team of volunteers receiving this award will have worked creatively to recruit new players from different backgrounds.
Winner: Teignmouth RFC
Towards the end of last season U15 squad numbers fell from 17 to 13. To retain players they formed a Teignmouth/Tavistock collaborative team, despite a 50 mile distance between the clubs. This unlikely alliance has been fantastically successful. The combined team have played league fixtures and finished third in their league.
This team of volunteers will have used all formats to keep players enjoying rugby.
Winner: Belsize Park RFC
From 77 new recruits in 2011/12, this season has seen an increase to 260 new players and over 350 players have played for Belsize Park RFC, up from 250 last season. All teams train, socialise and go on tour as one big group, encouraging strong cohesion throughout the player base and across squads.
Coaches Winner: Gareth Waterfield, Winscombe RFC
Having started a girls U13s rugby team at Winscombe four years ago, Gareth has successfully produced players into regional standard, won the South West girls cup in only the second season at U15 level and introduced and maintained girls teams now at U18, U15 and U13 age groups.
Referees Winner: Nando Dimatteo, Wellingborough RFC
Italian Nando Dimatteo came to the UK to work and raise his family, becoming a member of Wellingborough RFC 45 years ago. Over the decades he has organised numerous tours to Italy at both club and East Midlands junior representative level. Nando lives and breathes rugby union and it remains a huge part of his life.
Club volunteers Winner: Jo Littler, Stratford Upon Avon RFC
Jo's positive can do attitude at the club includes overseeing the running of the bar, club facilities, catering and grounds through to managing fixtures for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XV teams, liaising with match day officials, making playing arrangements and producing the club handbook.
People Power - 14-25 year-olds Winner: Eleanor Peggie, South Shields Westoe RFC
Described as the club’s own 'Angel of the North', 18 year old Eleanor’s example inspires other young people to volunteer and has changed attitudes across the board, from the junior to the senior section.
These volunteers will have developed fantastic facilities to transform their club environment for everyone who visits.
Winner: Isle of Wight RFC
The transformation of Isle of Wight RFC’s dated facilities into a modern, fresh, plush, clean environment with improved disabled access, has resulted in many benefits to the club.
The winning club will have developed innovative and sustainable ways of increasing & diversifying their revenue streams to invest back into rugby eg Social Spaces, NatWest Rugby Force.
Winner: Long Eaton RFC
4 years ago the club had dwindled to 24 players and a turnover of 8k but, thanks to a five year club development plan, Long Eaton RFC is now financially stable, continues to grow and has been ‘Erewash Borough Council Club of the Year’ twice in the last three years.
The award winners will have forged links with schools, colleges, universities, businesses, community groups and/or people that traditionally have had little contact with the game.
Winner: Canterbury RFC
Canterbury RFC is recognised, not just as a top sports club, but as an institution that adds value to the wider community. The club has raised thousands of pounds for local causes through a range of organised events including a charity bike ride and Wooden Spoon events.
PRESIDENT’S CATEGORY - ‘Try For Change’
This award will go to the person or people who have used the game as a vehicle for social change. The winner or winners will have used rugby to transform lives or communities.
Winner: International Mixed Ability Sport (IMAS)
Founded in April 2014, IMAS addresses the identified need for people with Learning and Physical Disabilities, nationally and internationally, to play mainstream sport rather than adapted disabled sports. Expanding on the successful BumbleBees Mixed Ability Rugby Team model, IMAS engages Local Communities, third sector associations, charities and educational providers to offer inclusive sport to a new audience.
- President's Awards Citations – 2015 winners (PDF 2.4MB)