Five Aviva Premiership Rugby stars have been recognised for making a big impact off the field by earning their place on the Aviva Community Player of the Year shortlist.
Jamie George (Saracens), Dom Waldouck (Northampton Saints), Dan Murphy (Gloucester Rugby), Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby) and Dave Ward (Harlequins) are all up for the prize – due to be announced on May 20 – which celebrates players’ involvement in their club’s community foundations and their work with a variety of other charities.
The 2014 award was claimed by Worcester Warriors’ Dean Schofield, who helped pioneer a scheme in which players serve breakfast to the homeless in Birmingham.
Premiership Rugby Community and CSR Director Wayne Morris insists that this year’s shortlist is evidence of the continuing work done by the league’s players in providing a positive impact in local communities.
"We are lucky to have over 600 players who act as great role models and ambassadors within our community work," Morris said.
"The five guys who have been shortlisted for the award are fantastic examples of players who are helping make a real difference for people in the community.
"The commitment shown by all is brilliant, but these five have gone above and beyond – they have fully engaged in their club’s community work, but they have also gotten involved with local charities associated with their clubs.
"In everything they have done there have been real benefits, they have freely given up their time to support young people within programmes or to help develop new projects and fundraising activity through their own profile."
With the players assisting in the work of 140 community development staff and numerous volunteers across more than 90 national and local programmes, Aviva Premiership Rugby is able to reach in excess of 310,000 young people every year.
George, Waldouck, Murphy, Dunn and Ward have been heavily involved in many of those initiatives, and Morris cites this variety as a key reason behind the clubs' success in the community.
"Our Play and Breakthru community campaigns revolve around the involvement of the players, and the enthusiasm of them all to getting so involved is critical to their success," he added.
"In a recent YouGov survey, more than 90 per cent of people fans asked thought it was essential that Premiership clubs delivered quality community work, and more than 85 per cent felt that the current work of the clubs was bringing real benefit to their local community.
"If you look at the shortlist this year you can see a number of different models in how the guys have made those differences.
"For example Jamie George has become a trustee of the Saracens foundation, while Dan Murphy and Dom Waldouck have donated their time to supporting local charities associated with their clubs.
"Some of the players nominated have helped by offering their help at local rugby clubs with coaching and advice, developing young players.
"It is great to have players from the highest level working with grassroots rugby clubs.
"Everything the players have thrown themselves into has been fantastic, and that’s why these five deserve to be on the shortlist."
On 20 May the winners of the following Awards will be announced:
- Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season
- Aviva Community Player of the Season
- BT Sport Aviva Premiership Rugby Dream Team
- Citizen Try of the Season
- Gilbert Golden Boot
- Green Flag Forward of the Season
- Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season
- Land Rover Discovery of the Season
- Trivento Top Try Scorer of the Season
The other shortlists will be announced over the next seven days.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 20 May at the sold out Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards at the Hilton, Park Lane. The event will be covered live on Twitter via the @premrugby account