Gloucester Rugby Community team yesterday evening (Wednesday 29th April) received the highly commended innovation award at the annual Parliamentary Rugby Union Citizenship Awards for their Onside programme.
The Onside programme was launched in January and is a revolutionary new scheme aimed at 16-18 year olds and is designed to improve confidence, communication skills, physical fitness and self-esteem in order to assist them into further education, training or employment.
The project is a partnership between Gloucester Rugby, Prospect Training, Wooden Spoon and TNT who have sponsored the programme.
Gary Little, Gloucester Rugby Community Manager, said:
"We are delighted to have received this award and the recognition for our community work. Gloucester Rugby is very much a community club and we run a whole range of programmes that support the development of the game, encouraging kids to learn to love and play it to the best of their ability and educational programmes that promote health and wellbeing".
"The Onside programme is a new and innovative scheme and although it is still in the pilot phase we have received much positive feedback. We hope that with ongoing support and funding we can continue to deliver the programme next season and seasons to come".
Mike Tindall, adding his support as programme ambassador said:
"As a youngster there were plenty of distractions centred around anti-social behaviour - but through sport and rugby in particular, I found a drive and an energy to focus on something extremely positive in my life."
"If, in any way possible, I can provide encouragement, a positive role model and an ambassadorial role then I am delighted to do so. This scheme is vital to the young people of Gloucester and everyone has be working extremely hard to make it a success."
Andy Reed MP, who has been a judge for all four years of its existence said:
"The sophistication and breadth of the projects being undertaken at the Guinness Premiership clubs is fantastic. There are a clutch of clubs who have shown they are excellent delivery partners for private and public sector organisations."
At the evening reception in the House of Commons, three additional awards were also re-presented.
Saracens, received the Community Club of the Year award, whilst Bristol Rugby were presented with the Innovation Award for their 'Bright Sparks' scheme, whilst Worcester Warriors received the Impact Award for their 'npower Tag' programme.
Miriam Sherlock, Editor of SportBusiness magazine, presented Saracens with the SportBusiness CSR Award for their rapidly growing dance programme.
The panel consisted of Derek Wyatt, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Chair), Paul Farrelly, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premier Rugby, Andy Reed, MP for Loughborough and Miriam Sherlock, Editor of SportBusiness magazine.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).