Saracens and Bath Rugby both enjoyed success on the pitch this year, but their work off the field deserves just as much praise after they were shortlisted for a Premiership Rugby Community Awards gong.
The two clubs, who contested the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final last month, will now battle it out for the BreakThru Award after judges picked them for the shortlist from a hotly-contested field.
The BreakThru Award is designed to reward a programme or one-off piece of activity that delivers a significant social change in the clubs’ local community. And whoever picks up the award at the House of Commons on 24 June, Saracens and Bath are already winners, having influenced their community in extraordinary ways through their own bespoke programmes.
Saracens’ GET ONSIDE! is a personal development project that uses rugby to engage young men at Feltham Young Offenders Institute, helping them to make life changes which reduce their chances of reoffending and support their resettlement after release.
Saracens hooker Jamie George, who was named Aviva Community Player of the Year last month, has also been heavily involved in the initiative.
And the Bath Rugby Foundation have been no less impressive with their ‘Stickability’ literacy programme, which is designed to give young people aged nine and 10 the opportunities to develop confidence in their education.
Stickability aims to reinforce five core learning skills: individual problem solving, perseverance and focus, emotional resilience, empathy, and teamwork.
Comic Relief sports partnership manager, Sam Shave admits it was the innovation shown across both projects that caught the eye of the judges.
"It was really interesting to be involved in the judging process," he said. "There were a number of really good projects put forward that are making a difference.
"We were looking for innovation, we wanted to see what the club was doing and how they thought differently.
"Second, the outcome and what they’ve been able to achieve and the two clubs projects shortlisted are really good case studies.
"Both Bath and Saracens work all year round and it’s often the community foundation which is the unsung heroes and it’s nice to be able to give back.
"GET ONSIDE! is an innovative programme like no other. Saracens has done something many other clubs would stay clear of.
"Stickability was really impressive and also something different that you don’t often see."
The winner will be announced at the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group Premiership Rugby Community Awards on 24 June at the House of Commons.
GET ONSIDE! – Saracens
Stickability – Bath Rugby Foundation