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MPs hail the impact of the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards

MPs hail the impact of the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards

MPs showed their support for the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards and praised the inspirational people who were recognised at the House of Commons last Wednesday.

Every year, hundreds of volunteers up and down the country give their time to help run Premiership Rugby initiatives, including Aviva Tackling Numbers, HITZ, Project Rugby and Move Like A Pro.

A tough judging process resulted in 13 being shortlisted and they travelled to London to rub shoulders with English rugby stars such as Wasps flyer Marcus Watson and Harlequins’ Dave Ward.

They were also joined by several MPs, including Damian Collins, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, who said the awards demonstrated the power of sport.

“Sports clubs have a credibility with people of all ages, particularly younger people, and they can break that barrier to get them to engage with sport in a way other organisations are not able to do,” he said.

“I think they are particularly powerful in dealing with longstanding problems and I have been very impressed with the work HITZ have done for the RFU.

“Saracens also do some amazing community work, I’ve been particularly impressed with the work they have done at HMP Feltham Young Offenders Institute.

“But across the country we see rugby clubs engaging with the communities they serve, not just connecting people with sport because they may be elite athletes of the future.

“We also see them getting people back interested in regular exercise and one of the wonderful things about rugby is that it’s a game for all.

“The well organised programmes can actually do a lot to break down barriers that isolate people from communities and deal with gang culture and anti-social behaviour.”

The first award of the afternoon was the PLAY Achiever Award, supported by Premiership Rugby, which went to Seth Mensah (Harlequins) and Kerry Simons (Worcester Warriors).

Michael Corney (Wasps) was recognised with the Breakthru Achiever Award, supported by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rugby Union, while the Community Volunteer of the Year award, supported by EdComms, was won by Daisy Hibbert-Jones (Sale Sharks).

The final award, which was for Community Coach of the Year, supported by Ricoh, went to Jack Seneschall thanks to his efforts managing Project Rugby for the Harlequins Foundation.

Nadim Zahawi, Minister for Children and Families, said: “This is incredibly important and I wanted to be at the awards to thank the professional clubs as they are doing a brilliant job.

“So, I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart as the Minister for Children and Families because sport is such a wonderful way to bring communities together.

“It reaches areas where other parts of government can never do, so thank you to the clubs and congratulations to all the nominees, who are thoroughly deserving of their recognition.”

Kerry was recognised after becoming involved in the Worcester Warriors Homeless Rugby team, despite having no previous background in the sport and, by her own admission, being quite anti-rugby.

Over a two-year period, Kerry was convinced to take part in sessions and took part in her first game of touch rugby in October 2017 as she overcame her high level of anxiety.

And Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston said: “It’s really good to come to the awards with the Worcester Warriors and show my support for Kerry as she has done a huge amount.

“Her experience with sport with the help of Worcester Warriors has really changed her life around and I think it shows how sport can really impact people’s lives.

“I think it also shows how much rugby, and all the rugby clubs across the country, contribute towards the local community.”

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Shadow Minster for Sport and MP for Tooting, added: “It’s fantastic to be at the awards celebrating people who have given so much of themselves to the sport and all the nominees are very deserving of their recognition.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Daisy [Hibbert-Jones] who won Community Volunteer of the Year and what she is doing, engaging people with disabilities in sport and supporting young girls in sport, is absolutely phenomenal.”

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