Inspirational Harlequins coach claims top prize at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards
Paul Farrelly, MP for Newcastle-under-Lynne and the Shadow Minister for Sport Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, were on hand at the Awards to congratulate Jack
JACK SENESCHALL admitted the satisfaction he gets from his work with the Harlequins Foundation is reward enough after being named Community Coach of the Year at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards.
The Community Coach of the Year Award, supported by Ricoh, recognises a community coach who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to change the lives of participants through a national or local programme.
That description is embodied by Jack, who was presented with the award at the House of Commons on Wednesday after beating off strong competition from Jack Leech of Sale Sharks and Wasps’ Jordan Young.
He was presented with the prize for his innovative work delivering the Project Rugby programme at the Harlequins Foundation, where he has created a strong network in typically non-rugby playing areas.
Jack has formed several new school rugby teams, specifically working with year groups that schools and teachers had refused or stopped teaching rugby to.
Among those he has inspired is Seth Mensah, who won the PLAY Achiever of the Year award, and Jack said he loves showing youngsters the positives that can come out of playing rugby.
When asked about his award, he said: “I’m more happy for Seth, who I put forward to win. I was just happy to be nominated and it’s a bit of a shock to win to be honest.
“I would have happily walked out of here with no award and felt recognised, so the fact that I have an award to take a way is absolutely astonishing.
“First and foremost, I get so much satisfaction from being part of the programme. I love helping others and discovering what opportunities rugby has for kids.
“That’s my primary involvement and I never used to play at a good level, so for me this has always been about facilitating growth and development for other kids.
“I think it’s fair to say I have developed as a coach this year and in the future, I would like to think about going into the player development side and actually working with professional outfits.
“But I wouldn’t ever not want to be involved in this as I love helping others, especially those who wouldn’t have the opportunities without some sort of aid.”
Through the Project Rugby programme, Jack started Project XV – a team made up from boys who are not currently at a rugby club and have not played or played a handful of school fixtures.
Most of the team reside in some of the poorest areas of South London and many have not had a positive experience of school, home or their communities.
Jack has also worked closely with Streatham-Croydon RFC to host project XV training sessions and the transitioned players for Sunday morning rugby should they want to continue playing.
“My role is to make first contact with the kids and engage them and then grow the programme from there within the school,” explained Jack.
“I’ve been in contact with 15 schools this year and the Harlequins Foundation has engaged over 600 kids and we transition 50 or so into club rugby – all of which are still currently playing.
“We have established a couple of initiatives in order to aid the programme and such transitions, with Project XV the primary initiative.
“We essentially pick the best attitude and most talented athletes from the schools and push them into a club and squad environment to give them a sense of prestige and worth.
“My involvement with it has been pretty much throughout the year and it’s really hit home coming to the awards how much the programme has developed since starting.”
To read more about Premiership Rugby’s community programmes, please visit premiershiprugby.com/in-the-community or join the conversation #RugbyChangingLives