Bristol Rugby chief community officer Ben Breeze believes the acknowledgement of the Eagle Project’s work will help the programme move forward after being presented with the PLAY Award at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards in Westminster.
The recently-promoted club’s project was named as the award winner at an illustrious ceremony at the House of Commons where nominees and guests were invited to attend.
Premiership Rugby’s PLAY Award recognises projects encouraging rugby participation across the full spectrum of social groups in England, designed to improve standards, promote inclusivity and increase involvement among those not traditionally exposed to playing rugby.
Judges whittled entries down to a short-list of three, with Bristol’s Eagle Project beating stiff competition from Harlequins’ Wheelchair Rugby programme and Saracens’ BLAST project after being deemed as having the biggest community impact.
The initiative was approached by a number of agencies, including Bristol City Women’s football club and local schools in order to increase participation.
Since then the project has reached ten secondary schools, per academic year, with each school receiving 12-14 weekly sessions staged over two terms.
Hear more about Bristol Rugby’s Eagle Project here:
And Breeze believes the project’s success is something which can keep growing as his volunteers enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Parliament.
"For Bristol Rugby, winning the PLAY Award is absolutely fantastic and crucial," he said.
"Bristol had been outside the Premiership for seven or eight years and the only part of Bristol Rugby still part of the top-flight has been our community project.
"The opportunity to bring our young volunteers to London is fantastic. One of them has severe learning disabilities and Down’s syndrome; he started doing a sports programme with us and is now a long-term work experience volunteer who we’re hoping to take on as our first special education needs advanced apprentice.
"He’d never been to London before, let alone Parliament and he has been blown away with his certificate and that was the best part of my day, witnessing this."
To read more about Premiership Rugby’s community programmes, please visit premiershiprugby.com/community or join in the conversation #RugbyChangingLives