Saracens Retain The Aviva Club Of The Year Award

SARACENS landed yet another prize at the seventh All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening – this time retaining the prestigious Aviva Club of the Year Award.

Sarries were presented with the award in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons for demonstrating overall excellence in their community work.

Saracens’ Community Team runs 27 community projects, has 54 partner rugby clubs and 34 partner schools and is known for its outstanding community work reaching over 70,000 young people every year. It is the fourth time that the club has won the award.

One of those projects is Get Onside, which teaches 15 to 21 year olds at Feltham Young Offenders Institute rugby’s basic skills, the rules and the sport’s values in a ten-week course.

Saracens’ link with the institute’s PE department has the specific aim of building young offenders’ confidence and improving their social inclusion, helping bring down the alarming statistic that 70 per cent of youngsters who leave Feltham are back within three months.

And Head of Community at Premiership Rugby Wayne Morris believes the Hertfordshire-based club should take great credit for their work.

He said: “Saracens have consistently been one of our leading clubs and have won this award a couple of years on the trot.

“Their presentation was incredibly impressive. It is a model of best practice within rugby but not only that but also as a global leader across all sports, for a club-based community intervention programme.

“The programme’s incredibly comprehensive, it’s well-thought out, it’s well structured and it’s got some fantastic people working in there who have got a real passion for trying to change young people’s lives and provide them with opportunities.

“They’re not working from a traditional rugby hotspot either, north London is not the easiest part the country to base this from.”

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 visit www.premiershiprugby.com

Saracens’ Love to Dance programme shortlisted

Saracens knew their dance programme for over-50s was changing lives when its Hertfordshire participants suggested they start paying for classes to ensure they continue– and its impact has been further recognised with a Premiership Rugby Community Award nomination.

Love to Dance currently runs 12 regular classes across the county and its four full-time instructors are in contact with more than 200 people every week.

On top of learning various dance styles including jive, salsa and rock & roll, the programme provides local people with a relaxed environment in which to get fit and make new friends.

While Love to Dance is on the shortlist for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award, coming out on top will not be easy as Bristol’s Bright Sparks programme and Gloucester’s Community Heritage Project are also in the running.

Saracens have a pedigree for walking off with top prizes for dance projects as their Community Dance Programme won a Sportbusiness CSR Award in 2009.

And this year they are also up for the prestigious Aviva Club of the Year as well as a Land Rover Innovation Award for Get Onside.

The winners will be announced at an evening reception in the historic Churchill Room at the House of Commons on June 27 and community dance manager Clare Bellchambers is keeping her fingers crossed that the judges will be as impressed as the programme’s members.

“The first time we ran the programme, with funding from Hertfordshire County Council, we just did ten sessions for free and we gave out some questionnaires after asking if they wouldn’t mind paying a small fee to help continue the course,” said Bellchambers.

“The response was amazing. They said they didn’t like coming for free and that we had such a good class that not paying for it was wrong.

“So now the sessions cost four pounds for two hours. Because we’ve got funding until next May that money is going into a pot so that if it ends next year we can maintain the course for a bit.

“For us the programme isn’t just about their getting over-50s active, there’s a social aspect too.

“Some people say it is a reason for them to get out of the house, otherwise they’d be stuck in doors.

“That’s why we have a coffee and tea break halfway through the class to give them a chance to socialise.”

With Saracens moving their home ground from Vicarage Road to Copthall for next season, Bellchambers is hoping to open up Love to Dance to a new audience in Barnet.

And she believes that winning the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award would go a long way to securing future funds for expansion.

“It would be great to win the award as it will help make people more aware of the programme as we seek more funding,” she added.

“We want to branch out in to new areas and with the stadium in Barnet we want to get something set up there and it would be great to show them that it works really well having won this award.”

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

Saracens programme at Feltham Young Offenders Institute praised

Saracens aren’t just doing their tackling on a rugby field as the club’s Get Onside project takes on Feltham Young Offenders Institute’s re-offenders, earning them an All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Award nomination.

Running for the first time in September 2011, Get Onside teaches 15 to 21 year olds at Feltham rugby’s basic skills, the rules and the sport’s values in a ten-week course.

Saracens’ link with the institute’s PE department has the specific aim of building young offenders’ confidence and improving their social inclusion, helping bring down the alarming statistic that 70 per cent of youngster who leave Feltham are back within three months.

Although shortlisted for the Land Rover Innovation Award, Get Onside faces stiff competition to win the accolade outright from Northampton’s Club Apprenticeship Scheme.

Saracens has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Aviva Club of the Year award, while its Love To Dance programme could pick up the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award at an evening reception in the historic Churchill Room at the House of Commons on June 27.

Saracens sports development officer James Coles has seen Get Onside grow from a pilot scheme last year to now having helped 24 young people, of which only one has re-offended, but admits it only came about in the first place by a chance conversation.

“We were working at Datchworth RFC and I was chatting with someone who was involved at Feltham,” said Coles.

“I asked if maybe I could come down and do a session. I ended up doing it as a one off but then thought, ‘actually there is a real opportunity there’.

“There are about 650 lads there and current statistics say that 70 percent will be back in three months.

“I thought there must be something we can do to make a difference because that is ridiculous.

“It would be fantastic to see the programme recognised with the award and great for us because it gives it a bit of credibility.”

Although each Get Onside course has a ten-week life span, Saracens’ commitment to its youngsters extends well beyond.

Of the 30 participants who’ve started the two courses; 24 completed it, of whom 12 were released early and seven remain in contact with the club.

“Once they’ve finished the programme we help them in locating and joining a rugby club and supporting them in education or employment,” added Coles.

“That can be through helping them write their CV or giving them a job reference or getting them involved as a volunteer with the Hitz programme.

“We are learning as much as the lads though and we’re changing a few bits and pieces all the time to make the course better and hopefully it will be around a long time to come.”

As part of the programme a rugby team made up of inmates from Feltham Young Offenders Institute won their first ever rugby match.

Abdi Mohammed, who turned down early release to complete the programme said: “Taking part in ‘Get Onside’ gave me lots of opportunities. I want to do some coaching now and pass on what I have learnt but have only just started playing rugby so I will need a lot more practise.”

Feltham lined-up to face Southgate College in the match.The Feltham team consisted mostly of the programme participants, but had three prison officers integrated into the squad to add much needed experience and leadership.

The unique dynamic between the young men and officers was clear from the outset, with the team pulling together to record a well contested 15-5 victory for Feltham.

The day was rounded up with a presentation from Saracens star Hayden Smith, who has regularly visited the prison to mentor inmates and aid with coaching.

Hayden Smith said: “This project has shown to be a shining light for the young men involved. Sport can often provide the discipline and inspiration to get on in life, and I’m impressed by the hard work shown by the inmates at Feltham.”

Shortlist For All Party Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards Announced

PREMIERSHIP RUGBY today confirmed that Saracens and Northampton Saints will do battle for one of the most important awards in the rugby calendar.

The Aviva Premiership Rugby duo have been shortlisted in the Aviva Club of the Year category at the prestigious All Party Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards, which will be held on 27 June at the House of Commons.

The awards, which are in their seventh year, are being run in association with The All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.

Clubs will be competing for three awards; the Land Rover Innovation Award which celebrates work which creates innovative social or community programmes; the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award, an accolade for an established programme which clearly demonstrates the positive impact it has made on a particular social issue; and the Aviva Club of the Year Award, presented to the club which demonstrates overall excellence in their community work.

The winners will be announced at an evening reception at the historic Churchill Room at the House of Commons.

Saracens won the Aviva Club of the Year award in 2011 and again impressed an impressive panel of judges, this time joined on the shortlist by Northampton Saints.

The 12 Premiership Rugby clubs deliver over 150,000 hours of community programming each year and community engagement is at an all-time high. These awards recognise the depth and breadth of work going on around the country as well as rewarding the most impactful clubs and providing best practice examples for other clubs to use.

Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby, said “Playing an active role in their communities is vital for our clubs, and these awards are just one of the ways we showcase the great work they do.

“I know the judges had a tough job bringing the shortlists down and I’d like to commend each programme that made it through. They should all be proud of making it this far.

“In addition to promoting the spirit and values of rugby union, every club works alongside charities, the private sector and the Government in tackling diverse social issues, such as numerical skills and social inclusion.”

Saracens were also shortlisted for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award for their Love to Danceprogramme alongside Bristol Rugby’s Bright Sparks, and Gloucester’s Community Heritage project.

Completing a hat-trick for Saracens the London club were also shortlisted for the Land Rover Innovation Award, with their  Get Onside Project, emerging from a tough field onto the shortlist with Northampton Saints for their Club Apprenticeship Scheme.

On behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group Paul Farrelly, MP, said: “The All Party Group congratulates each of the clubs who are shortlisted for this year’s Awards. Rugby Union’s community work has grown each year and the quality and commitment of the community teams is admirable. Sport can make a real difference to changing people’s lives. These Awards prove it.”

Full Shortlist

Land Rover Innovation Award

Finalists

Northampton Saints – Club Apprenticeship Scheme

Saracens -The Get Onside Project

 

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award

Finalists

Bristol Rugby – Bright Sparks

Saracens – Love To Dance Programme

Gloucester Rugby – Community Heritage Project

 

Aviva Club of the Year

Finalists

Northampton Saints

Saracens

Premiership Rugby Coaches Visit High Schools In Queens, Brooklyn And The Bronx

Premiership Rugby coaches today visited high schools in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, as part of an initiative to develop and promote rugby.

Coaching sessions were run to assist high school pupils who will be playing in the Public School Athletics League High School Rugby 7s Final on Friday.

Marc Dibble from Exeter Chiefs, Tamara Taylor from Worcester Warriors, Caryl Thomas from Bath Rugby and Max Malkin from Saracens delivered sessions to the 7s girls and boys teams at Urban Assembly High School in the Bronx (photo attached). They were joined by the Collegiate 7s Oklahoma team, who will be playing at the 2012 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia on Saturday, and who worked with the Premiership Rugby coaches giving tips and running a Question and Answer session.

Representatives of Premiership Rugby are in the United States of America to play a key role in the development and promotion of rugby in the country.

12 coaches, one from each of the Premiership Rugby clubs, have travelled to New York along with four members of Premiership Rugby’s Community Team to help promote the game.  The visit follows Premiership Rugby’s successful trip to Brazil in March to help in the development of rugby in South America.

The core values of rugby will be used by coaches in their work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in New York to help improve self-esteem, community cohesion and other social outcomes.

The visit runs from 28th May to 2nd June and involves the following Premiership Rugby coaches:  Caryl Thomas from Bath Rugby, Marc Dibble from Exeter Chiefs, David Barley from Gloucester Rugby, Thomas Williams from Harlequins, Christophe Ridley from Leicester Tigers, Michael Crump from London Irish, Ian Isham from London Wasps, Gavin Beasley from Newcastle Falcons, Benjamin Mann from Northampton Saints, Richard Spencer from Sale Sharks, Max Malkin from Saracens and Tamara Taylor from Worcester Warriors, alongside Wayne Morris, Sophie Hartley, Helen Clayton and Scott Watson from Premiership Rugby’s Community Department.

On Thursday 31st May Premiership Rugby coaches will help launch the Great Campaign Sports Festival, a touch tournament in Central Park, and then will be attending an end-of-season awards event in Harlemwith youngsters’ friends and family.

On Friday 1st June, the Public School Athletics League High School Rugby 7s Final will be taking place in New York.  During the week leading up to the Final and for the Final itself, two Premiership Rugby coaches and one Play Rugby USA coach will be assigned to mentor each school.

On Saturday 2nd June, Premiership Rugby will be running fan engagement fitness testing sessions in the fans village at the 2012 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia, where the Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy will also be on display.

Premiership Rugby’s Community Department has developed a number of ground-breaking initiatives including the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme, the award winning MBNA Tackling Numbers project and the award winning and innovative social inclusion programme Hitz, as well as the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Cup, and ESPN Premiership Rugby Masterclasses.

Wayne Morris, Head of Community at Premiership Rugby, said “Each season Premiership Rugby and its clubs invest more than £3 million in a variety of community programmes which aim to grow grassroots participation and tackle core social issues.  In the last year alone, Premiership Rugby clubs delivered 150,000 man-hours of community programming to more than 240,000 participants. Premiership Rugby also provides 600 professional players, each a strong role model within their communities, who are involved in supporting the schemes.  Our programmes prove that we are a world leader when it comes to our community initiatives, and I’m delighted we have been given the chance to come to the USA to help promote and grow the game.”

Mark Griffin, President of Play Rugby USA (PRUSA), said: “Play Rugby USA is one of the foremost Rugby-based youth development programs in the world. The PRUSA Academy aspires to be the pinnacle of PRUSA’s player development efforts for aspiring and talented young athletes. Partnering with Premiership Rugby and the world’s most competitive domestic rugby competition not only provides a strong endorsement of our Academy’s efforts but more importantly an opportunity for our players and coaches to develop with the support of a World Class partner.”

Dan Lyle, Executive Vice President of USA Sevens Rugby and a former Premiership Rugby player, said: “At the USA Collegiate Rugby Championship Finals we marry up development and aspirational opportunities for players and coaches.  Premiership Rugby runs the top club competition globally and the partnership continues our efforts of partnering with World Class groups.”

Dr. Keith Gilbert talks about the Premiership Rugby Community Awards

Following a very successful first round judging session for this year’s Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Rugby Community Awards, Dr Keith Gilbert shares his views on the importance of sport in the community.

Welcome to the 2008-9 Rugby Season!

Hi, I’m Wayne Morris, Community Manager for Premier Rugby.  As our new season kicks off, I’d like to take the chance to give you an overview of the community work that’s coming up…

Our goal is to put community investment at the heart of the work we do as a professional sport.  Our Chief Executive Mark McCafferty gives us an overview of the community season ahead in this recent interview:

(To learn more about the sports season itself, listen to Mark’s interview on that subject here.)

We know that by engaging with local communities we cannot just help encourage kids to play rugby, but we can also make a contribution to dealing with other social problems.

Rugby is a great sport and a great way to encourage people to stay active but we think our brands, our players and our facilities can go beyond just addressing physical activity. Our programmes also set out to tackle social issues like health, social inclusion, education, and anti-bullying.

If you’d like to know more about our community policies, partnerships and programmes, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Below is an update on some of our most recent community projects:

Positive Futures

We’ve been working this summer on a few new areas, one of which has been a social inclusion pilot project with Positive Futures in London. To find out more about it, visit our Positive Futures blog post here and listen to a series of interviews with London Active Communities CEO Gary Stannett and others who participated or helped deliver the scheme.

EDF Energy Schools Programme

I am also delighted that we’re starting a new season of the world’s largest rugby-based community programme – the EDF Energy National Schools Rugby Programme, a national programme that has exposed thousands of 8-10 year olds to tag rugby. All twelve clubs in the Guinness Premiership participate; last fall the EDF Energy programme celebrated reaching 500 schools and we hope to reach 112,000 children by July 2009. (The government recognised the achievements of the programme last year when the National Sports Foundation awarded it a grant of almost £200,000.)

Wooden Spoon and the NSPCC

We have also got some interesting new programmes coming with the Wooden Spoon and the NSPCC. But more of that shortly…