UNIVERSITY RUGBY AWARDS 2021/22
Rugby is much more than just a game, and the annual University Rugby Awards are the opportunity to reward and recognise the individuals and clubs that give so much behind the scenes to grow and develop university rugby on and off the pitch, bringing the RFU core values to life.
There are 6 Award categories and 7 Awards being given this season:
Universities that nominated:
Bath Spa University
University College London
University of the West of England
University of London
Exeter University RFC
University of East Anglia
University of Buckingham
University of Nottingham
Oxford Brookes University
Liverpool Hope University
University of Brighton
University of Liverpool
CORE VALUES CLUB
To celebrate a University Club who have demonstrated an outstanding and consistent commitment to the values of the game.
Loughborough University WRFC.
Kirsten Flower, Student/Referee/Player at Loughborough Student's Women's Rugby Union
- Loughborough Women’s Rugby Union held a whole club meeting with all 3 teams and coaches at the start of the year to discuss how we felt the club culture was last year because of covid and not having socials or gatherings across multiple teams. This discussion was followed with a ‘moving forward’ aim of discussing this year’s club culture, club ethos, and motto and how we are all as a club going to achieve this to establish our club culture and inter-team relationships.
- Introduction of a cap system for the whole club this year. This was to honour the achievement of wearing the Loughborough shirt as well as instil a supportive and family-feel club culture. Cap presentations at every game for milestones on someone’s 1st cap, 10th cap, and 20th cap etc.
- Provided more specific and individual support for concussion and injuries. Individual messages were sent to check in on every injured player, with committee members ensuring any player who had to go to medical facilities was accompanied either by a coach, teammate, or housemate. These players were checked in on regularly and the club established a system for contacting player preferred contacts, such as housemates or next of kin, in the event of emergencies or non-contact from injured players. The committee also offered specific help with university issues, such as the welfare rep offering help with any mitigating circumstances claims because of injury/concussion or personal matters.
Loughborough Women’s rugby has also come together for charitable causes, such as winning the 2022 Lip Sync Battle to donate the winnings to our chosen charity. The club also had just under 30 members in attendance at the Lip Sync Battle to further increase the money raised. The club donated 164 items during the Christmas food donation, including tinned foods, bags of rice, toilet roll, and sanitary products
Enjoyment and Sportsmanship
- Supporting social secs to provide more regular team-building activities and sober socials, such as going out for dinner after games instead of drinking, and after training pizza nights and tea and biscuits. To better integrate freshers into the club, at the first few socials’ freshers were paired up with other freshers and returners to go to socials together, as well as doing walking buses from campus to any events in town.
- International celebration to recognise the diversity of our club. Produced a LSWRFC map of where everyone is from and posted on our social medias to showcase the diversity of the club and celebrate our members.
- Celebrated diversity of our LGBTQ+ community through rainbow laces worn during February’s LGBTQ+ History Month and fundraising for Stonewall. During February, to ensure our long-lasting support and dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion, the club signed the Student Team Pride Pledge, joining the other 150+ University and College teams to do so. From the outset of this year, the club has made it clear that we are accepting of all gender identities and sexual orientations, ensuring that this ethos was promoted at the Sport Bazaar.
- Organised and delivered a wheelchair rugby ODE with Northampton Saints, Social Sport, and Parasport. The handover process to the next welfare representative for the club will ensure this event is included within their roles, signifying an annual event the club aims to deliver in the future and a partnership with Northampton Saints Wheelchair Rugby team.
- Delivered supportive events and initiatives around key times, such as international days and months, and around exam periods. For example, motivational Mondays during pre-season and exams, self-care packages and wholesome activities for exam season, such as yoga, and self-care checklists which promoted healthy behaviours like going on social media less. Social media posts for international women’s day and signposting to relevant mental health services and helplines during world mental health day.
COACH OF THE YEAR
To celebrate a coach or coaching team that have positively impacted performance and/or the wellbeing/welfare of their players.
Abi Martin University of Brighton
Darren Fearne (England Students & Newcastle)
Katie Trevarthen (Loughborough)
Lucy Callingham, University of Brighton, Sports Development Officer
Abi took over as Head Coach of the Womens Rugby team this year, after previously being Captain the year before. She is a committed, friendly, approachable coach who caters for a wide range of abilities to ensure everyone is involved, engaged and challenged.
Despite being new to coaching, her ability to work with players and get the best out of the them has lead to the team finishing second in their league, even with the team moving up a league this season. She has also helped developed 2 volunteer coaches within the womens coaching team, helping further enhance the quality of the environment she is creating for her players.
She is also a key link between university and club settings, having helped transitioned seven players into Hove WRFC. She has also had a further 3 players go on to be selected for the Sussex County Squad.
She has also been recognised by the RFU for he potential in coaching by being offered a ‘Every Rose Scholarship’, which will see her take on a funded Advanced Coach Award with bespoke CPD opportunities.
Abi has also taken on the Rugby Student Internship role at the university. As part of this role she has arranged both coaching and refereeing qualifications for students and staff. She has also run events which link university players into local clubs. This in turn has also supported local club by providing additional playing opportunities for entry level teams.
Dan Oliver joined the University Coaching Team during the covid season as a volunteer coach. With Dan joining this has meant that both new and experienced players have received important player development to a level that would not otherwise have been possible. Having a volunteer coach has also resulted in better management of training sessions resulting in a more enjoyable and effective learning environment – which is crucial to the future growth and development of the women’s club. His commitment has also extended to attending both home and away fixtures, where he has been an encouraging and positive leader to the players.
Dan has also taken time off work to attend a referee course to help his understanding to improve his coaching, but also to be able to referee games when needed to prevent future fixtures being cancelled.
Having come off the back of a covid year where no BUCS rugby had taken place, along with limited training opportunities both have provided exceptional leadership to help support a new committee and make the club even more welcoming to all. The culture they have set has allow players to express who they are, both on and off the field, and provide the support many student have needs post pandemic and during the change from home life to university life.
To celebrate a university student or committee who made an outstanding contribution to the game through their commitment and endeavours in leading through rugby in their university.
The panel decided that due to exceptional circumstances, that the award should be split this year and a double award be made to both Edward Hollingworth (Buckingham) & the UWE WRFC Committee for their outstanding leadership in the face of tragic circumstances
University of Buckingham Rugby Club President
Sarah Ruff, UoB Sports Coordinator
Edward was elected as President of the University of Buckingham rugby club in August 2021 and officially started in the role September 2021. He started the year as he meant to go on with developing the most innovative stand at the Freshers Fair by hand making and designing an interactive challenge for the new students to engage with. As a result the club saw great sign ups and real interest from experienced and non experienced players. Throughout the year Edward has developed the relationship with the local rugby club and has encouraged his teammates to join him at club training and representing the town at weekend games. Thanks to his efforts there have been a record number of university students representing the local club with around 5-7 players regularly playing at matches - this is far more than in any previous season and has also helped to re-establish the annual Town v Gown match. The club has also had a renewed focus on match play this year with Edward organising several games against local clubs in the October - April period and also entering the team into some summer tournaments. This has meant that the club has over 25 committed playing members and with many alumni and placement students showing their interest the enthusiasm for the club has been high.
Not only has the men's game been flourishing but thanks to Edward's leadership the university has seen an interest in women's rugby and the early stages of a women's team being established. A women's executive role was added to the club's committee and with around 8 - 10 female players engaging with the university offer and around 2-3 attending the local club and with 1 regularly representing the club at matches this is a real success for the club and university. The hope is for the women to establish their own university rugby club in the next 12 months.
Thanks to the organisation, commitment and enthusiasm from Edward the rugby club is one of the most respected clubs at the university and has also helped raise a lot of money for charity this year. The club lead on the Sports Union Movember campaign which raised over £600 for a fantastic cause, as well as teaming up with the Cheerleading club to play a charity dodgeball game which raised over £130 for Anthony Nolan charity.
Edward is always looking for ways for the club to develop and should be extremely proud of the work he has achieved so far.
UWE Women’s Rugby Team
Clare Dobb, Parent/ supporter
"The UWE women’s rugby team have worked hard to recruit players this season - they have promoted the positive values of rugby and as a result had over 70 players register to play this season and managed to put 2 teams out and sort fixtures, for the first time. When smashing through the league, they were humble to the opposition and showed respect at all times - lending players to ensure the games could go ahead and supporting the opposition in the game.
The girls suffered a devastating loss when one of their own passed away following an injury sustained during a game. Maddy Lawrence had only been playing the game for a short while but she was one of team - loved and respected. The team came together to support each other, and the players family and in the space of a week fund raised over £25k in her memory - which will be used for a foundation to support women’s rugby and mental health. They rallied the support of the whole rugby community who showed their respect for Maddy Lawrence across the whole game - juniors. Men’s and women’s teams and never lost sight of what the values of the game and after all my years of being involved in rugby I have never been prouder of these girls and this team .
You can look on their social media page to see what they have achieved ."
STUDENT VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR (UNSUNG HERO)
To celebrate the unsung hero student volunteers who have made a significant contribution to the game through their volunteering.
Newcastle University Women's Rugby President
Dyfan Humphreys (Liverpool)
Sophie Mawer, Player
Micha is the president of our club NUWRFC and she has done a fantastic job this season. Unfortunately, at the end of last season she sustained an ankle injury which has completely stopped her from playing whilst she waits for treatment, this left Micha feeling uncertain about her future within the club and wondering how she could make an impact. Micha didn’t let this stop her though and showed complete resilience, she threw herself into coaching and has made a tremendous impact on not only the club, the individual players but the wider rugby community too.
Micha was a key individual who gave huge amounts of her time to plan, organise and deliver an inclusive fresher session at the beginning of the season. This event led to a massive increase in numbers at the university club, allowing us to have over 90 girls registered this season, putting out 2 BUCS teams weekly and having a development squad too. Micha’s efforts in this have been paramount, she is a huge believer in growing the sport, especially growing the women’s side of rugby. It is evident that she believes in the players and wants to get as many women involved in rugby as possible.
Micha’s love for the sport and helping grow women’s rugby in the North East is evident through her efforts in recruitment for NUWRFC. Micha started an outreach programme with the club which has allowed her to host Open Days for rugby at the club. She invited a sixth form to our rugby ground for a coaching session so that girls who are potentially going to be future Newcastle students can experience what we have to offer. This day was a massive success with Micha sharing her experiences and her oozing with enthusiasm for these budding rugby players. She hasn’t just stopped there; she is constantly looking for further opportunities to invite different sixth forms down and host inner warrior style events to enable the sport to continue to grow.
As well as these Open days hosted at the club Micha has hosted sessions at disadvantaged schools in the area. Travelling to the schools herself, bringing rugby to the girls so that they don’t have to worry about how they are going to make the sessions. It is clear that Micha has a passion for rugby and wants to make the game inclusive to as many people as possible which is evident by her going out of her own way to bring rugby to anyone no matter where they are. These taster sessions have provided an opportunity for girls to get a taste of what the sport offers and Micha has signposted the girls to local clubs around them with the links she has made.
As well as growing the women’s side of the club, Micha has made it her mission to tackle racism in rugby and create a space where everyone no matter what race can enjoy the sport. She is part of the ‘NU working group’ which is a joint group between the men’s and women’s rugby union looking to tackle racism in rugby. This group was formed as a response to an incident that occurred at one of the men’s matches. Micha and the rest of the group work tirelessly to change the narrative within the rugby union and the wider sporting community with Newcastle sport. She believes in a safe and equal space for individuals to play the sport we love and wants our ethos to be adopted by our supporters. Nobody should experience racism ever, especially in an environment in which they are doing what they love, Micha has not stood back and let this continue she has been proactive and an active member in writing a new narrative on stopping racism in Newcastle rugby. The ‘NU working group’ was only formed this year and they have worked hard to create and begin to implement a structure to deal with and stamp out racism which will be upheld throughout future years in both clubs and hopefully Newcastle sport.
TOM MILLER AWARD FOR SOCIAL IMPACT
To recognise a club or student who has demonstrated considerable impact through charitable and awareness raising endeavours.
PANEL RECOMMENDATION ENDORSED BY TOM MILLER'S PARENTS
Archie Morris (UCL)
Bath spa university women’s rugby committee
Julia Saunders, Captain for BSUWRFC
Bath spa university women’s rugby (BSUWRFC) sadly had a massive loss to their rugby family when loosing an alumni member, Laura Madenga, in 2021 due mental health struggles. Since this time BSUWRFC have worked hard to ensure that Madenga’s legacy would live on and that they could celebrate her life. The committee and specifically the president, Summer, made sure this was possible. In November of 2021 we held our inaugural Madenga tournament, a touch rugby tournament where we invited everyone, including alumni, to come along and play the sport she loved. We had interest from over 10 other sport teams, a lot who had never even touched a rugby ball before. It was such a successful event raising over £1,400 that was split between going to mind charity and setting up a university wide hardship fund which is named after Madenga. The point of the hardship fund was to ensure that everybody at Bath Spa could access the amazing opportunities available and not let financial difficulties stop them and that their membership and equipment can be paid for. Being part of such a small university with around only 10,000 student and a team of only 30 members this money is able to help and support so many students. While we may not know who they money goes to we have had confirmation that it has been used. It is amazing to know that this fund has already had an impact and will be able to do so for many more years.
BSUWRFC, have continued with even more fundraising and awareness throughout the year, holding an event for international women’s day to help raise money for a local charity within Bath who support domestic violence victims, this event also raised over £500. They are also currently completing a fitness challenge to run 2014km throughout the month of March to raise money for the Wiltshire air ambulance.
RUGBY FOR ALL - EDI AWARD
To recognise a club, team or individual commitment to increasing equality, diversity and inclusion in the university game.
Rei Crooks, University of Nottingham Rugby Ambassador and President of Rugby Minds
Kirsten Flowers (Loughborough)
James Cherry and Cameron Furley
Rei crooks is the first rugby ambassador at the university of Nottingham. She is a fourth year student who no longer plays but has had an active role in the women’s programme all year. She put hours and hours of work sorting the first ever mandatory consent workshop for the men’s and women’s rugby clubs. This is the first of its kind across the country and was delivered by students to students. 150 men’s rugby players took part and we are now looking to roll this out to all universities, whilst awaiting SU backing to make this mandatory for all university societies. These workshops brought the men and women’s club closer than ever before and saw many men’s players go down and coach the women’s teams. The culture shift this elicited was monumental. Rei also set up and runs UoN rugby Minds, an initiative to bring together all types of rugby at the university and improve culture, diversity and inclusion within our clubs. She’s brought together intramural players (IMS) men and women’s members, all with the same common goal. She set up a social media campaign which involved supporting stonewall rainbow laces day and multiple mental health in sport initiatives. Her job in the role of rugby ambassador was so successful the budget has significantly increased for future years and the SU and university powers have noted what a fantastic job the UoN rugby minds team have done leading the way in culture and player welfare.
Rei Crooks after her appointment as Rugby Ambassador (a role set up by the university to encourage inclusivity and positive culture change in the men and women’s rugby club) has gone above and beyond this role. She has set up 'Rugby Minds' a student based initiative comprising of members from both the men’s and women’s club dedicated to encouraging positive changes within the two clubs. This led to a university first, a club wide 'consent workshop' which was led by Rugby minds members and aimed towards educating the men’s club to the problems faced everyday by women, and to an extent BAME and LGBTQ+ groups. As a result of this and many other positive impacts Rei has had, the men’s and women’s clubs at university of Nottingham are closer than ever, and inclusion, education and awareness are at all time highs, which I believe has had a positive impact on the two clubs on the field account for the 1st XV's double promotions