Youngsters from Bath Rugby, Gloucester Rugby and London Irish in line for HITZ Rugby Ambassador Award
Inspiring individuals from Bath Rugby, Gloucester Rugby and London Irish will enjoy time in the spotlight after being nominated for the HITZ Rugby Ambassador award, supported by Land Rover.
HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which, with the help of its funders Land Rover, Wooden Spoon and Comic Relief, works with more than 2,000 14-18 year olds across England every year, and is delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional rugby clubs.
Using rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, HITZ works to get young people not in education, training or employment (NEET) back into education, training, apprenticeships and/or employment, and is delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional rugby clubs.
One of the four gongs on offer is the HITZ Rugby Ambassador award, supported by Land Rover, recognising a young person for their progress and development in the sport of rugby – on and off the pitch. It rewards progress in physical fitness and skill, while also looks at how the core values of rugby have supported them to overcome a range of challenges and progress on their journey back to education, training or employment.
The hard task of whittling down the nominees to a final three fell to a group of judges, with Bath Rugby’s Jade Whale, James Marshall of Gloucester Rugby and London Irish’s George Herbert getting the nod.
Jenny Smith, Sponsorship and Partnerships Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “I felt that the judging of the HITZ nominees was a real privilege.
“It’s actually pretty humbling to read such inspirational stories. In the current climate, programmes such as HITZ are vital to ensure that these young adults feel part of society and are given opportunities that due to challenging life circumstances are not always open to them.”
Jade joined HITZ in September 2017, and although she had a sporting background, had never played rugby before. Having not enjoyed school she had low self-confidence, a bad attitude to learning and would often walk out of class.
However, throughout her time on HITZ Jade became more involved in rugby by volunteering with the Bath Rugby Foundation. From this she went on to volunteer at mixed ability training sessions with the Walcott Warriors team and is now signed up to play for Bath Rugby Ladies.
James had quite a sheltered home life due to his learning difficulties and joined HITZ as he was out of education and unable to find a job. He loved rugby but did not have the confidence or the knowledge to know where to begin with regards to playing, while he found communication very difficult and was therefore another barrier to participation.
But HITZ helped James to understand that he had the capability to play rugby, and through the programme he has become part of the Gloucester Rugby mixed ability team while he has also managed to secure a job with the club’s onsite maintenance team.
And finally, George left school and joined the Army which was something he had always wanted to do. However, he quickly realised that it wasn’t for him and left his training. After enrolling in college and then being kicked out George found himself hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble with the police.
Before joining HITZ, George’s level of rugby was basic and he only played it at school, however his attitude towards rugby has improved substantially thanks to the programme and he is now playing in the 1st XV for Reading Rugby Colts as well as helping set up, captain and coach the London Irish inclusions team.
“All of the submissions and results are a testament to the work that the HITZ officers and wider teams put in,” Jenny added.
“Using rugby as a tool to enable them to find their feet again in life after the levels of adversity they have faced make them all worthy winners.”
This year’s glittering HITZ Awards will take place at the BT Centre on Wednesday 17 October where participants, mentors and rugby stars past and present will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements. Follow all the action at @HITZRugby