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Fund Recognises Clubs Who Kept their Community Engaged During Lockdown.

SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) and Ulster Rugby are back with a bursary fund to reward rugby clubs who kept their community involved in rugby – despite the global pandemic.

The fund will reward the efforts of clubs and volunteers throughout Ulster who have embodied the spirit of community rugby by keeping their players and the community engaged throughout the pandemic, from championing health and wellbeing to keeping kids and families connected to the game off the pitch.

The bursary is an extension of the SONI Real Rugby Heroes initiative which has sought to reward volunteers for their invaluable contribution to the domestic game in Ulster for over five years.

A total fund of £3,000 is available; tiered in three bursary levels of £1,000 each for the following categories:

Category 1 –  Community Club Award. 

Championing the clubs who in the face of adversity and despite guidelines and protocols supported their club members in the community throughout the tumultuous 2020/ 21 season.  This award will recognise the club that continued to promote the ethos of team spirit and support its community despite the game of rugby being paused. It will also look to recognise clubs that went above and beyond to protect members from the virus and keep them safe on club grounds.

Category 2 –   Keeping the Kids Involved. 

Highlighting the efforts that the ever-burgeoning mini rugby and youth rugby sections of community rugby clubs make. This award will champion the club that, in the face of adversity, went above and beyond to keep kids and families involved in the game connected off the pitch.  The winning mini rugby and youth rugby section will highlight the efforts made to engage and to keep boys and girls and families connected to clubs and the game and each other despite the closure.

Category 3 –   Health and Wellbeing Award. 

Encouraging nominations from all clubs or club individuals who established activities that supported the mental health and overall wellbeing of their members and the wider community during the pandemic.  The winning club should outline the initiative (s) they promoted, how members engaged and how the initiative(s) delivered a positive impact to members’ physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Nominations for Real Rugby Hero – Game Changers 2021 have now closed!