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.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.