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Devon club honoured with RFU President’s XV Award

22 May 2012

  • Plymstock Albion Oaks honoured with runners-up prize in Playing Opportunities category
  • Devon club applauded for their work in the community

Devon-based Plymstock Albion Oaks will this week be honoured for their work in the local community with the presentation of a RFU President’s XVs runners-up award.

The Plymouth club were shortlisted for the Playing Opportunities category because of the various schemes they have been organising to engage the local community in the sport.

One of the club’s most ambitious projects has seen Plymstock Albion Oaks start a Disabled Rugby scheme. The club have worked closely with the Downham Special School in Plymstock, coaching children with Downs Syndrome and autism.

Although challenging at times, the club’s team of dedicated, qualified coaches have seen major steps forward in the children's rugby ability and aptitude. In an attempt to role this out to other local schools in the area, the club finished the season with an inter-schools training session followed by a game of tag rugby.

Nigel Higginson, Chairman at Plymstock Albion Oaks, said: “We are now looking forward to continuing this ambitious programme and are hoping that the groundwork we have put in place will encourage more schools and our own club members to help Disabled Rugby grow. Our ultimate goal is to introduce the children into our club away from the normal school environment.”

Plymstock Albion Oaks’ playing initiatives have been far and wide reaching and the club, who already run teams in all of the youth age groups as well as ladies and senior teams, have also been applauded for introducing Summer Touch Rugby.

Working alongside Devon RFU and the RFU’s Rugby Development Officer, the programme was very successful and it will continue this year with a view to enabling more people outside of the club to participate.

Higginson added: “Hopefully schemes like this will encourage more people into the sport of rugby and also increase our membership as we look to move further into the local community.”

Now in its sixth year, the RFU President’s XV Awards seek to identify and reward initiatives that promote the development of rugby at a grassroots level. This year, the RFU received 274 entries for the competition’s 15 categories.

The RFU President’s XV judging panel comprised RFU President Willie Wildash, Immediate Past President Richard Appleby, Past President John Owen, Junior Vice President Bob Reeves, Rugby Football Union for Women President Gill Burns, England’s most capped player Jason Leonard, Rugby World editor Owain Jones and Sally Rockenbach from QBE.

Willie Wildash, RFU President, said:  “The quality of entries was very high this year and this made life difficult for the panel of judges. All the winners and runners up are doing a great job at the grassroots end of our game, across many important development areas.  These clubs are the heart and soul of rugby and it’s wonderful to be able to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work put in by all the volunteers involved.”