Gallagher’s bid to find its first ‘Rugby Club of the Season’ is a nationwide competition to champion grassroots rugby and inspire the game’s next generation of players. The search began in November 2019 to find local clubs that could demonstrate their contribution to the local community, both on and off-the-pitch; their inclusive approach to providing opportunities in rugby across age, gender, ethnicity and ability; and their innovative ways of increasing participation in the sport at a grassroots level.
As a finalist, each grassroots rugby club will receive a skills-sharpening training session with stars from their local Gallagher Premiership Rugby club, Gilbert training equipment worth up to £1000, and a Gallagher-led business-focused event to help the club and community off-the-pitch.
The finalists are:
- Ironsides Rugby (Harlequins) – selected for its strong ethos of inclusivity across the South West London community including financial support to remove barriers that would otherwise prevent local young people participating; growing its ladies squad from zero to more than 70 in less than four years; and its rugby-based intervention work with prisons and young offenders’ institutes, including encouraging players to get involved in coaching sessions at Wormwood Scrubs
- Erdington RFC (Wasps) – chosen for its ‘Changing Lives Through Rugby’ initiative and impressive work in its inner city community, focusing the club’s outreach on introducing rugby’s core values to young people susceptible to getting involved in gang culture and knife crime; and its diversity of growing squads – all from a standing start in 2016 after the club reformed following a major fire
- Haringey Rhinos Ladies (Saracens) – shortlisted for its inclusive ethos, bringing local women from all backgrounds together to play rugby and build their confidence; using recruitment drives at local universities and Inner Warrior training sessions as just two ways to attract and engage new members
- Kingsbridge RFC (Exeter Chiefs) — selected for its role as a genuine community hub in the South Hams area for members age four to 80, and its support of vulnerable members of the community with their physical, social and emotional wellbeing having adopted its mantra ‘Our House is Your House’
- Longlevens RFC (Gloucester) – chosen for its commitment to inclusivity and community within the sport through a highly successful mixed ability rugby project, which sees it provide weekly coaching sessions for young people from special education needs (SEN) schools in Gloucestershire and host an inaugural three-SEN-school tournament, which resulted in 50 new members
- Trafford MV RFCC (Sale Sharks) – shortlisted for its engagement with the local community and businesses, for launching one of the first walking rugby teams for over 50s, and for the strong mutually beneficial links it has built with local universities that is helping it fulfill its ambition to create a sustainable women’s team
Following all six finalists’ events, representatives from Gallagher and Premiership Rugby, alongside Gallagher ambassadors and rugby legends Ugo Monye and Danielle ‘Nolli’ Waterman, will decide on the winning club — with a public vote through the club’s social media channels contributing to the overall result. The ultimate winner and Gallagher’s first ‘Rugby Club of the Season’ will then receive an enhanced Gilbert training bundle worth up to £2000, and 100 tickets to the Gallagher Premiership Final 2020.
Sarah Griffiths, Director of Communications for Gallagher in the UK, commented: “There is so much fantastic work happening within grassroots rugby, not just on the playing side, but also in terms of the impact these clubs are having within their local communities. As a local insurance broker we feel that deserves recognising and rewarding, which is why we were delighted to introduce the Gallagher Rugby Club of the Season competition as a way of giving something back to support the development of this next generation of players, coaches and clubs. The quality of the entries we received was incredibly high and all six finalists really are a credit to their communities. We look forward to celebrating the work that each of the clubs are doing to improve the sport at a grassroots level.”
To find out more about Gallagher’s involvement in rugby, visit www.ajg.com/uk/rugby/gallagher-premiership-rugby/