Northampton Saints Pick Up Top Community Award

NORTHAMPTON Saints’ Club Apprenticeship Scheme won the Land Rover Innovation Award at the seventh All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening.

The scheme, which began last September, takes on 16-18-year-olds who are not in education or employment and invites them onto a 26-week programme working behind the scenes at Franklin’s Gardens while gaining several qualifications in the process.

From more than 100 who applied, 10 were selected to learn the ropes in a number of areas, from ticketing and media, to helping in the study centre, retail and conferencing.

Even before the award it has proved a real success, with many of those involved looking at longer-term employment over the summer.

And Head of Community at Premiership Rugby Wayne Morris believes the future looks bright for those who have benefited from Saints’ good work.

He said: “The judges felt that the Northampton Club Apprenticeship Scheme was a very innovative programme.

“Rather than just using sport as a mechanic just to train people as in traditional sports apprenticeship schemes, the ability to use all of the departments and all of the expertise across the rugby business within the club to provide a broader base of knowledge for those young people was the decisive factor.

“Each person that goes on to the scheme gets rotated through the programme so they work in each of the club’s departments for a period of time where they learn a broad base of skills. The advantage of that is that they understand how each individual element works.

“They’re working with some of the most disadvantaged young people and disadvantaged communities around Northampton and really targeting young people who haven’t had much of an opportunity – and providing those opportunities which will hopefully lead the young people to go into full-time employment, either with the club or with them being introduced to their sponsors, partners and funders so we’re providing sustainable job outcomes for those people as well.”

The awards were run in association with The All Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.

And Morris insists the influence of Premiership Rugby can continue over the next 12 months and beyond.

He added: “The big advantage we’ve got is we’ve got an emotive brand and we’ve got some very unique assets in players.

“They are great role models and ambassadors but we also have stadia which enthuse and inspire people, and we can utilise rugby as a mechanic to get to people excited, whether it be about health changes, education, employment opportunities, it provides them with a different opportunity to what they face normally.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards visitwww.premiershiprugby.com

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