Harlequins and Worcester Warriors duo share PLAY Achiever of the Year Award
Such was the strength of the PLAY Achiever of the Year category at this year’s Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards, two inspirational nominees were crowned joint winners.
The PLAY Achiever of the Year Award recognises those who have overcome physical, cultural or social barriers to become involved in the game whilst embodying the spirit of the PLAY campaign.
And Seth Mensah of Harlequins and Worcester Warriors’ Kerry Simons both took home the prize from the event at the House of Commons after the judges were unable to separate them, pipping
George Lambert, of Bristol Bears, and Sale Sharks’ Henry Hibbert-Jones to the gong.
Seth was recognised after becoming a core member of the Project Rugby outfit from Riddlesdown Collegiate, having recently lost both his mother and father due to a tragic set of events.
The 15-year-old was failing at school and was becoming involved in gang behaviour, but he has turned his life around thanks to the support of Project Rugby and the Harlequins Foundation, taking part in the Project XV initiative.
And Seth said Project Rugby, which is a grassroots initiative from Premiership Rugby and England Rugby designed to increase participation in under-represented communities, has had a massive impact on his outlook on life.
“Project Rugby has changed my behaviour massively and my attitude towards sport, the teachers, friends and everyone, I’m getting a better understanding of the sport,” he said.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) July 12, 2018
“I’ve enjoyed meeting people from other schools and after a couple of sessions we’re all close friends, we are so tight you wouldn’t have known that we hadn’t know each other for long.
“I feel like without Project Rugby I would still be misbehaving and I wouldn’t be playing any sports and I would just be getting in a lot of trouble inside sport and outside sport.”
He also thanked Project Rugby’s Jack Seneschall, who nominated Seth and also won Community Coach of the Year Award supported by Ricoh, for seeing his potential and encouraging him to get involved.
“Having Jack as my coach has really helped as he’s the reason my behaviour has changed so much and I wouldn’t be here without him,” added Seth.
“I love playing rugby as it allows me to put all my emotions on to the pitch and just having all the energy, all the adrenaline going through my body when scoring a try or making a tackle.”
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.
🗣 @tracey_crouch: “Sports like rugby have a unique power to improve lives."
It was fantastic to have the Minister for Sport join us for an inspirational evening at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards last night.https://t.co/T0FngRkb2A pic.twitter.com/Amltal0WLh
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) July 12, 2018
Her attitude to rugby has now completely changed and she has transitioned into playing contact rugby at Five Ways Old Edwardians WRFC, being voted captain and playing a crucial role in recruiting new players to join the team.
“It’s immense and I wasn’t expecting to be even shortlisted for this,” Kerry said. “The stories of other people I was up against are phenomenal and to come joint first, it’s hard to explain.
“The team has helped with my confidence and before it I wouldn’t go to anything like this and to be on stage that’s a massive increase on what I was able to do beforehand.
“I have gained so much self-belief as I never really believed in myself until the team helped me believe in myself, so with the push from the team that has helped big time.
“Without the team I probably wouldn’t have got the job I just got and I would probably be doing the same stuff as I was before, just dossing around and doing nothing.
“It took two years for the team to persuade me to go and join and I was adamant I wasn’t going to do it, but the team and the people who were there just pushed me on.
“I’ve enjoyed taking on more of a leadership role as there’s a lot of people in different circumstances and to be able to use my experience to help them move forward is really immense.
“Helping others as captain just puts a smile on my face and this award is for the team as they are the ones who have helped me get where I am and I want to thank them.”
To read more about Premiership Rugby’s community programmes, please visit premiershiprugby.com/in-the-community or join the conversation #RugbyChangingLives