A new initiative, which aims to honour and recognise the dedication of community rugby volunteers across Ulster was launched last week by Ulster Rugby and SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland).

The SONI Community Rugby Champions programme is being pioneered by SONI who is responsible for running the electricity grid across the Province. It follows the recent announcement of its title sponsorship deal with the Ulster Senior League.

The awards will honour the contributions made by volunteers right across the Province, including everyone from the Head Coach to young volunteers, fundraisers, minibus drivers or tea ladies – any volunteer who has been involved with the club for at least six months is eligible to enter. Judges will be looking for those who have made a positive contribution to their club and someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty for the love of the game and their club.

Four finalists will be shortlisted from four regions and will be invited to attend Ulster Rugby’s glittering end of year awards ceremony with all finalists receiving a £500 bursary for their local club and the overall champion winning £1,000, as well as being crowned the SONI Community Rugby Champion.

Chris Webster, Domestic Rugby Manager at Ulster Rugby, said it is important that the hard work and dedication of volunteers, who give up their free time, is suitably recognised and rewarded:

“Rugby clubs play a huge part in their community and they rely heavily on the dedication of volunteers, who don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

“The SONI Community Rugby Champions award is a fantastic way to recognise volunteers’ achievements and to say thank you for all their hard work, commitment and devotion to their local club. We’re thrilled with SONI’s level of commitment since their sponsorship with the Ulster Senior League and for championing and supporting such a great initiative.”

Robin McCormick, General Manager of SONI added: “As part of our sponsorship with the Ulster Senior League, we are delighted to have this opportunity to reward people who give up their free time to ensure the smooth running of community rugby in their area. Without volunteers, local clubs which play such a crucial and positive role in communities, simply wouldn’t be able to survive. SONI is committed to benefiting local communities and we do that through ensuring the safe, secure and efficient supply of electricity across Northern Ireland, so we’re proud to be the driving force behind an initiative which rewards those who are dedicated to serving their community.”

The deadline for entries is Tuesday 8th March. Anyone can nominate by filling out the  application form, at ulsterrugby.com/communitychampions.

For more information on SONI visit soni.ltd.uk or follow on Twitter @soni_ltd

#SUFTUM