With the Gallagher Premiership targeting a 15 August return, we continued our monthly search in May to find and recognise the many inspiring off-pitch performances being made by players in support of their local communities, while we await the resumption of play.
Rugby player of the month

Northampton Saints duo Paul Hill and Lewis Ludlam were today applauded for their “fantastic off-pitch performance” on being named the first joint winners of the Gallagher Community Player of the Month award.

Paul and Lewis won out in the public vote for their role in spearheading a “brilliant and inspired initiative”, which saw parts of Franklin’s Gardens transformed to provide community maternity care to local expectant mothers.

With Gallagher Premiership Rugby targeting a 15 August return, there once again wasn’t any rugby action in May to allow our expert judging panel to select their Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month from on-pitch performances. But there’s been no shortage of inspiring social and community stories emerging across the country during lockdown to create an impressive shortlist for our alternative accolade – the Gallagher Community Player of the Month.

Our search to find and recognise the Premiership player who made the biggest social contribution to their local community in May, produced a four-strong shortlist of inspiring stories that Gallagher and Premiership Rugby then put to the public vote.

The others on the shortlist were Bath Rugby’s Max Clark, London Irish’s Theo Brophy-Clews and Curtis Langdon from Sale Sharks.

Paul and Lewis emerged as the winner from the fans’ poll grabbing 42% of the votes as hundreds of supporters applauded the individual actions of Gallagher Premiership players who are delivering real and meaningful difference across the country. Curtis was second with 32%.

Lewis and Paul led from the front on a new Northampton Saints initiative, joining forces with the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust to deliver maternity care at Franklin’s Gardens during the coronavirus pandemic.

With hospitals and GP surgeries under intense pressure, Saints decided to make several boxes within the Carlsberg Stand available for Northampton General Hospital’s midwives to offer expectant mothers appropriate care. For more details click here

Leading the praise for the two players’ efforts in spearheading the project was Gallagher ambassador and Rugby World Cup winner, Nolli Waterman who said:

“Once again, we have seen the strong community spirit and can-do attitude of Gallagher Premiership Rugby players and clubs come together to deliver real and tangible benefits to local people during this coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m sure neither Paul nor Lewis foresaw a time when they would be hauling medical equipment and supplies into hospitality boxes at Franklin’s Gardens. And almost certainly not in a bid to transform those boxes into safe spaces for community midwives to welcome expectant mothers and deliver maternity care, but what a brilliant and inspired initiative this is!

“A fantastic combination of off-pitch performance by the players and donation of otherwise unused space by Saints while play is paused, making Lewis and Paul worthy winners of our final Gallagher Community Player of the Month award for the season.”

Northampton Saints
Lewis was presented with the Gallagher Community Player award on behalf of Paul and himself during a training session this week.

Paul and Lewis win:

  • A shirt signed by all the players from their club, which they will donate to MIND
  • A donation from Gallagher to the Hope Centre
  • The Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month trophy

Click here to see all four shortlisted candidates and detail on the community contribution they have been making.

Praising the efforts of players and staff across the Gallagher Premiership during the pandemic, Nolli added: “Over the past few months we’ve seen and shared some amazing stories of how Gallagher Premiership Rugby players have connected and contributed to their local community, whether by lifting spirits with laughter and supporter surprises or delivering real change on the ground through volunteering efforts. And our May finalists were no exception.

“Now, as clubs follow their careful roadmap to a hoped-for August restart in play, keeping safety as the top priority, we can begin to look forward once more to celebrating players’ on-pitch performances. But we will never forget how the rugby community came together at a time of real crisis, to collaborate and support each other at the grassroots level, and make a real difference to so many people’s lives.”