National Community Recognition Awards 2023: Winners announced

National Community Recognition Awards 2023: Winners announced

The winners of the National Community Recognition Awards 2023 have been announced this evening at BT Murrayfield following their presentation at the Club Awards Dinner.

The event which was hosted by Caroline Blair and featured a Q&A with Scotland internationalists Emma Wassell, Ben White and Cameron Redpath, saw no fewer than 14 awards presented to volunteers, players and inspirational individuals across the game.

The first awards presented on the night recognised inspiring leaders and volunteers across the game.

The winners were selected from the Regional Community Recognition Awards by a panel comprised of Rugby Development colleagues and members from the Club Rugby Board (CRB).

Winners of the player awards and SP Energy Network’s Spirit of Rugby award were also selected by the panel following analysis of games and a nomination process.

Speaking on the night, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development, Gavin Scott said: “It has been another tremendously successful year for the Scottish rugby community and that is a credit to the countless volunteers, players and coaches throughout the country for this.

“We are constantly humbled by the incredible commitment those across our clubs and schools show not only for the sport, and it has been a delighted to celebrate this tonight.”

Scottish Rugby President, Colin Rigby added: “Tonight has been the perfect way to wrap up the domestic season, recognising and sharing our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable.

“We also took time to celebrate the tremendous performances from players across the game, who have been part of creating special memories for their teams, clubs and local communities with their outstanding performances on the pitch.”

Young Person’s Award sponsored by inspiresport: Georgia Steel (Waysider Drumpellier RFC)

The first award of the night went to Georgia Steele of Waysider Drumpellier, who picked up the Young Person’s award.

Georgia was recognised for her work as head-coach of the girls section at her Wayside Drumpellier RFC, having taken over the role this season. In this role he has also supported with organising fixtures and kit, all whilst working and studying for a sports degree.

Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby sponsored by inspiresport: David Irvine (Wigtownshire RFC)

David Irvine of Wigtownshire RFC was next to be recognised, receiving the National inspiresport Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby award.

The inspirational coach, who has been described by his club as “the heart and soul of the girls’ section”, received the award for his commitment to increasing activity of girls’ rugby, and supporting in all the organising of fixtures, kit and travel.

Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby sponsored by inspiresport: Chris Jubb (Wallace High School)

Chris Jubb has been described as the “driving force” behind the rugby programme at their school and has played an integral role in creating one of the largest state school programmes in the Caledonia Midlands region, if not the country.

Those new to the game are introduced into Chris’s well organised and structured development programme which builds understanding and growth in rugby skills, terminology and most importantly confidence in contact.

Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby sponsored by Tennent’s Lager: Erland Drever (Orkney RFC)

Erland’s work to re-establish a social rugby initiative at Orkney RFC has been described as having an “absolutely huge impact on the health of its membership”.

Given Orkney’s remote location, a lot of travel is required for men looking to play their rugby on the Island. Identifying this barrier, Erland has arranged for games to be played across multiple locations across the Island, as well as the outer Island of Westray.

More than 100 male players have taken up the opportunity to play regular games scheduled by the loose-head prop, and as result of this renewed interest, there are more players training regularly, with some even pushing their way into the 1XV squad.

Community Match Official of the Season: Steven Dyer (Borders Rugby Referee Society)

Steven Dyer of the Borders Rugby Referee Society received numerous submissions for the Community Match Official of the Season award, and subsequently picked up the National award as selected by the judging panel.

Fellow society members described Steven has someone who has “worked himself to the bone on and off the field” over the last 12 months.

Whilst working full time, Steven has been managing the match official allocations for the society as well as taking the time to assistant referee match and coach other up and coming officials.

Tennent’s Men’s National League Player of the Season: Mark McCornick (Newton Stewart RFC)

Mark McCornick of Newton Stewart RFC has been named as the Tennent’s Men’s National League Player of the Season.

Featuring in 19 fixtures for his hometown club this season, Mark picked up 12 Player of the Match awards along the way.

The Scottish Rugby judging panel noted his impact on the pitch, helping Newton Stewart go to the top of Tennent’s National Division 2, narrowly missing promotion on points difference to Glasgow Accies.

The 29-year-old number eight was also recently involved in the Inter District Championship, playing with Glasgow and the West.

Tennent’s Women’s National League Player of the Season: Poppy Fletcher (Heriot’s Blues)

Poppy Fletcher of Heriot’s Blues rugby picked up this year’s Tennent’s Women’s National League Player of the Season.

At just 19-years-old, she made her debut into the Tennent’s Premiership this season, following her senior debut the previous season in the Sarah Beaney Cup pool stages.

The versatile front-row forward has made 11 appearances this season picking up five Player of the Match awards along the way.

The former North Berwick High School pupil also shone this year playing for the Thistles in the Celtic Challenge.

Tennent’s Men’s Regional Leagues Player of the Season: Adam Monahan (Ardrossan Accies)

18-year-old Adam Monaghan has been confirmed as the Men’s Tennent’s Regional Leagues Player of the Season.

A product of the Ardrossan Academy, Adam made his debut to the senior game this year.

In 18 appearances for the club, this young scrum half has been named Player of the Match on six occasions and has started in every single game this season.

Tennent’s Women’s Regional Leagues Player of the Season: Nicole Barlow (Annan Warriors)

Annan Warriors’ Nicole Barlow was named the Tennent’s Women’s Regional Leagues Player of the Season.

The 26-year-old Rugby Development Officer featured across all 10 league matches this season for the Warriors. The young scrum-half was named player of the match in no fewer than four of those fixtures.

National Panel Match Official of the Season: Calum Worsley

This award is presented to a referee at the National end of the domestic competitions, which is any of the three Tennent’s National League divisions or above.

Calum Worsley was named as the winner of this award for his 11 professional performances refereeing in the Tennent’s Premiership League.

Calum also officiated across the FOSROC Super Series, and had an appointment to as an Assistant Referee in the URC, and he did this all whilst working as a radiographer.

Tennent’s Try of the Season, Men & Women: Ronan McKean (Hawick RFC) and Emma Barlow (Hillhead Jordanhill)

The Tennent’s Try of the Season was awarded based on a public vote for Scottish Rugby’s Twitter (@scotlandteam).

The overall winner in the Men’s category received 56% of the votes and was scored by Ronan McKean in the nail-biting Tennent’s Premiership Final between Hawick and Currie.

As the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark, Hawick found themselves six points shy on the scoreboard and down to 14 men.

After a determined series of play, the ball was passed wide and caught by the Hawick winger who grounded it in the corner to not only win the match but to secure their title as Premiership Champions, finishing the league undefeated.

In the women’s award, winning 53% of the final count, the Tennent’s Women’s Try of the Season was awarded to Emma Barlow.

The full-back scored the opening try from the Hillhead Jordanhill and Cartha Queens Park derby during the Tennent’s Premiership in January (38-12).

Cartha remained pinned inside their 22 by Hillhead’s defensive effort Barlow intercepted the ball in spectacular fashion and crashed over the whitewash.

Community Club of the Season sponsored by Tennent’s Lager: Strathendrick RFC

For the past 12 months, Strathendrick RFC has been front and centre at the heart of the local community through fundraising and physical activity, leading them to receive the Community Club of the Season award for Caledonia Midlands.

Now the largest participation sports club in the Trossachs, the club runs 17 different age group teams, men’s teams and a women’s touch rugby team.

Working on collaboration with Balfron High School, the club have helped establish four new girls’ teams in the last 18 months alone, with the U16 side going on to win the Glasgow North Aspiring League in their first season.

To ensure maximum inclusion, the club have created a clothing exchange programme where people can donate, exchange and pick up boots or other kit they need to take part in rugby. The club fundraised over £600 to kick start the initiative and give young players a chance to access kit they need.

The kit-store has been extended include a food bank for members of the club who may need some additional support.

In the last year, the club has also dedicated a considerable amount of time fundraising for local causes. Since May 2022, the club has raised more than £28,000 for agriculture mental health charities and for specialist equipment for a former player who had been affected by a brain injury.

The SP Energy Networks Spirit of Rugby Award: Julie Coutts (Ellon RFC); Brian & Senga Johnston (Ayrshire Clan)

Scottish Rugby were inundated with nominations for the Spirit of Rugby Award, which celebrates an individual from the Scottish rugby community who demonstrates in all their endeavours the values of our sport and encompasses the Spirit of Rugby.

The selection panel had a tough job picking from the many applications submitted, and settled on awarding two Spirit of Rugby awards.

The first was presented to Julie Coutts of Ellon Rugby, recognised for her contributions to inclusion and diversity at the Aberdeenshire club.

Just this year, Julie became the first woman to take on the role of Club President at Ellon, as the club looks to make a strong commitment to towards inclusion and diversity, amongst other important topics including mental wellbeing.

She also hold many other roles at the club including coaching the mini and youth boys section, youth girls section, and has been known to get involved with the men’s senior team.

Thanks to her dedication, the club is seeing players enjoy enhanced experiences at the club through their coaching as well as feeling more supported with their wellbeing.

She was described by her nominators as “the definition of Spirit of Rugby, a beacon of rugby values in general by her rugby community as she continues to be an ambassador for female rugby and committed to growing the game”.

The second Spirit of Rugby award was presented to Brian and Senga Johnston from the Ayrshire Clan, a unified, inclusive team which welcomes individuals with a range of disabilities to have access to rugby.

The wife and husband duo have been called the “Mum and Dad” of the team as they spend considerable time getting to know all the players and their relevant carers and families to better understand any medical, mobility and emotional needs they have to ensure that the game is as accessible as possible to everyone.

They ensure that the wellbeing of each Clan member is paramount in everything they do and as such no player has ever been turned away.

Numbers have grown and more players than ever are now not only attending weekly activity sessions but putting themselves forward to play in matches with other unified teams.

From it organising to fundraising, writing newsletters to supporting training session – these two do it all and are being recognised for all of their efforts.

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