Scottish Rugby announces East region Community Recognition Award winners
The 2022 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners from the East region have today been announced following their presentation on Saturday 26 March.
The Community Recognition Awards is Scottish Rugby’s annual domestic game awards programme, focusing on the on and off-field efforts of clubs and schools across Scotland over the course of the season.
Awards winners were announced for six categories including; Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby, Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby, Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby sponsored by Tennent’s, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season sponsored by Tennent’s, and the Community Match Official of the Season.
Each winner was presented their award at the Scotland Women TikTok Six Nations fixture against England on Saturday, receiving a personalised trophy and prize.
Scottish Rugby East Regional Director, David Drummond said: “As our sport has returned to somewhat of a normal run this season, it is a credit to the vast number of volunteers throughout the region that we have been able to do it so successfully.
“We are constantly humbled by the incredible commitment those across our clubs and schools show not only for the sport, but for their local community too and that’s what the Community Recognition Awards are designed to celebrate. The winners completely typify this, and I really can’t offer enough praise.”
Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr added: “As we approach the end of the domestic season, it is vitally important to recognise and share our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am so pleased that we have been able recognise that impact and say thank you to everyone for their efforts in helping the game bounce back with this year’s Community Recognition Awards.”
The respective award winners and nominees are listed below:
Community Club of the Season sponsored by Tennent’s: Haddington RFC
This season marks 50 years of mini rugby and 110 years of adult rugby at Haddington RFC, and now they are adding Community Club of the Season in the East region to their cap.
From inclusive rugby opportunities to local gardening projects and fundraising, the club has been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the sport and local community over the course of the year.
The East Lothian based club have been especially focused on supporting young people into rugby, and now have over 150 players playing regularly in their minis section at the club.
And it’s not just rugby the minis have been getting involved in. In partnership with East Lothian Council, the youngsters helped plant over 8,500 bulbs around Neilson Park as part of the ‘Blooming Haddington’ project. With spring now in bloom, the bulbs will bring colour to the park and will now be an annual celebration of the history in the community.
Haddington have also been working with local schools including Knox Academy to deliver a School of Rugby programme which now has in excess of 100 young people taking part, and the club frequently receive praise from the schools they work with regarding the wider benefits rugby’s values bring to the pupils.
Since working with their local schools the club has developed a strong connection with Meadowpark School, a specialist provider for pupils with additional needs, and the club is now working to support funding of specialist playground equipment for the pupils.
Further demonstrating their desire to go the extra mile for those in need, Haddington has helped to raise over £14,000 through a number of challenges and virtual events for range of charitable causes including My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and the Wooden Spoon charity.
Young Person’s Award: Robbie Greenan, Leith RFC
Robbie Greenan of Leith RFC picked up the Young Person’s Award at this year’s East region ceremony. Robbie has dedicated countless hours of his time to provide playing opportunities to boys and girls, committing to weekday and Sunday rugby sessions.
Working around his college time, 17-year-old Robbie has been a driving force in leading and delivering extra-curricular rugby to the club’s local primary and secondary school to increase rugby participation in the community.
Robbie has been credited for “creating a fun and safe environment for the players”, whose enthusiasm for rugby has helped to transition players from the local primary schools to represent the Leith at club fixtures around the East region.
As well as working with local schools, Robbie takes the lead coaching the primary 4 age group at the club and travels with the team to every home and away fixture.
To bolster his skill set, the young volunteer has now completed Scottish Rugby’s Coaching Essentials, Aspiring Coaching and Introduction to Match Officiating courses, and he now regularly swaps his coaching hat for his refereeing whistle on a Sunday morning at the club.
Giving praise to Robbie and his work, a spokesperson for Leith RFC said: “If Robbie was not volunteering at Leith, many kids would be missing out on the chance to give rugby a go and we would not have enough coaches to offer rugby to all primary schools in our local community.
“Robbie has built positive relationships with the parents too, and has encouraged a couple of them to get involved and assist with the running of Sunday rugby home fixtures.”
Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby: Adrian Graves, Stewart’s Melville College/Edinburgh North Vikings
Adrian Graves of Stewart’s Melville College/Edinburgh North Vikings wins the Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby award.
This season, Adrian took on a new role as S1 Head Coach of the Edinburgh North Vikings. In this role Adrian is said to have “worked tirelessly to deliver a safe and inclusive return to rugby for all”.
The Vikings is a squad comprised of players largely from Stewart’s Melville and Heriot’s, and the idea behind the new team was to bring them together to create a squad and grow as a team. Adrian has helped create a strong and cohesive team by making it clear from day one that the boys are playing for each other. Adrian is said to do “everything he can during training and matches to ensure the boys are integrated and supporting each other”.
Further credit to Adrian’s inclusive ethos, a number of young players from other local Edinburgh schools have since joined the team and are thriving in the positive and inclusive environment he has created.
Adrian isn’t just dedicated to his coaching, as a former referee, he has also been supporting young people into refereeing themselves, providing them with tips and advice along the way.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh North Vikings said: “It’s not what Adrian does to support, develop and promote the game of rugby, that prompted this nomination – it’s how he does it. He’s always been very aware that the number one priority is that the boys are safe and have fun.
“Secondly, his focus has never been on winning. He takes the view that he is developing the rugby players of tomorrow. He promotes a heads up, free flowing style of rugby that gives boys the foundations to grow into the game. His squad are often commented on in terms of their style of play and the spirit in which they play their rugby.”
Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby: Allison Whitson, Kelso High School
Allison Whitson of Kelso High School is this year’s the Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby for the East region.
Allison is an Additional Needs Assistant at the school, and in the last two-years she has helped to grow the School of Rugby programme from the ground up.
The school now has tangible links with Kelso RFC and there are now 25 girls aged between 12 and 16 engaged both in the school programme and club rugby.
As a current player for Kelso Ladies she has been able to use her own experiences as a means of increasing engagement within the school, and her position as a member of school staff has meant she has regular contact with a huge number of the players, supporting not only their rugby development, but also their social and emotional development.
In Allison’s nomination, a spokesperson from the High School said: “The players have real trust in Allison and to see these relationships flourishing in a school environment really confirms what an excellent experience they are getting at training outside of school.
“It is evident that her enthusiasm and commitment is providing a positive rugby experience for players of all levels and ambition.”
Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby sponsored by Tennent’s: Jamie Barclay, Lismore RFC
29-year-old Jamie Barclay has been credited for his devotion to the adult game at the Edinburgh-based Lismore RFC, in particular its Women’s team.
Jamie took up the mantle as Lismore Ladies head coach at the beginning of the 2021/22 season and has been credited for his work in keeping the team afloat, the players motivated and supporting to recruit new players.
Jamie has also been lending his coaching expertise to Queen Margaret University Women’s team, who have a partnership affiliation with Lismore. The University team also began their season without a coach, and Jamie decided to step up to support them too.
When Jamie’s not coaching he’s driving the minibus to take the Women to their away games, helping with the club’s social media page and playing for the Men’s 1XV team.
A spokesperson at Lismore said: “Jamie is willing to go above and beyond to help keep Women’s rugby alive at both Lismore RFC and Queen Margaret University. He has shown selflessness by putting his rugby development on hold to help support the future of those teams.
“He has shown a clear passion for rugby as even when we have low training numbers he will still show up. Our players enjoy every training session with Jamie, as they have a smile on their face from start to finish.”
Community Referee of the Season: Allana McLean, Edinburgh Referee Society
Allana McLean is a young female referee who is in her third-year officiating with the Edinburgh Referee Society. She has fast become a regular in the Edinburgh club game and is well liked and received by the clubs she visits.
Allana has been recognised as an instrumental team player in maintaining activity and communication of the refereeing community, whilst continually striving to be the best referee she can be and supporting others in the network.
Allana is said to “always be looking to get out at the weekend” and, as well as being in the middle of the pitch, she is often found on the side-lines as either a touch judge or cheering on a new referee.
In a testimonial about Allana, a spokesperson from the Edinburgh Referee Society said: “There are many reasons why the society are honoured to nominate Allana for the Community Referee award, but the most important focuses entirely on that word, community.
“Refereeing can sometimes be a lonely experience, but Allana has worked tirelessly to help create a club atmosphere amongst the Edinburgh referees and we have no doubt she has been instrumental in the rise in recruitment and retention of referees this year.
“On the pitch she has been a shining example of how a positive attitude and a willingness to learn can help a referee progress; and off the pitch she continues to reach out and engage with referees and clubs to strengthen the community for everyone involved.”