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un Fit Fed Rugby

WRU Fun Fit Fed Rugby camp at Pembroke RFC

WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport

The Welsh Rugby Union has won two awards in recent weeks from the Welsh Sports Association Awards and most recently, the Nation of Sanctuary Awards which was held this week.

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On Monday evening (17th June), the WRU proudly took home the award for Contribution to Sport at the Welsh Refugee Council’s Nation of Sanctuary 2024 awards in recognition of the Union’s efforts around diversity and inclusion.

A key driver to achieving the award was the WRU’s fast-growing, We Soda Fit Fed & Fun programme which launched in 2021, working alongside our regional partners and Welsh government to support children and their families during the school holidays providing free, healthy, nutritious meals and fun, physical activity.

Last year we engaged with over 14,000 children, which is more than double on the previous year with ambitious plans to expand, reaching all areas of Wales by 2025, providing around 600 camps each year.

The Nation of Sanctuary Awards panel also recognised the union’s work in collaboration with EYST (Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team) which began last year and the South Riverside Community Development Centre supporting local women from ethnically diverse communities.

The WRU alongside EYST and regional foundation partners developed specific coach development courses and delivered rugby sessions in Swansea, Newport, Haverfordwest and Wrexham, including rugby sessions that took place in Swansea and Haverfordwest Mosque’s and dedicated nighttime rugby sessions during the holy month of Ramadan in Newport and Cardiff.

The coaching and rugby sessions were designed with the aim of creating leadership pathways within communities that have never traditionally engaged in rugby to grow participation in their local areas and engage in the game at grassroots club level.

‘Credu/Believe’, the WRU’s project with the South Riverside Community Development Centre has been two years in the making. The aim of the project was to share values such as social justice, participation, equality, learning and cooperation through a number of sessions, including sports opportunities to women aged 25+ from diverse communities.

In 2023 members of the Believe / Credu project were invited to attend Wales’s match against Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park, representing communities from India, Guinea-Bissau, Sri-Lanka, Sudan, Columbia, Malaysia and Wales. In 2014, the WRU were delighted to welcome their return to Cardiff Arms Park as the Guard of Honour for team Wales!

Speaking about our award win, the WRU’s Head of EDI, Liam Scott said,

“We’re honoured to receive the award for contribution to sport, especially during such an important time as refugee week.

We’re extremely lucky to work alongside a number of fantastic organisations that enable us to reach communities that have previously had little to no engagement with rugby and make a positive impact. For many of these communities, it’s the first time engaging with our sport, so for us, it’s about how do we turn that initial engagement into creating long-term affiliation and a feeling of belonging within our national sport.

We’re immensely proud to support the work the Welsh Refugee Council do in supporting the refugee community and helping people make Wales a Nation of Sanctuary.

“The ceremony itself was a wonderful celebration, it is truly an honour to have been nominated alongside some incredible organisations and individual that are doing amazing work and helping to provide real change.”

As proud sponsors of the Rising Star award, Liam added, “Rugby has played a significant part in Welsh culture for 140 years, with our rugby clubs connecting people at the centre of our communities. We want to continue to grow and develop as an organisation in line with a modern Wales and reflect the people within it.

“We at the WRU are working with our clubs, schools and key partners such as the Welsh Refugee Council, whether it is providing rugby boots to families, delivering rugby sessions in under resourced communities or providing food and rugby sessions at our We Soda Fit Fed and Fun camps during the school holidays we continue to ensure that rugby is for all.

It’s the people involved that make rugby the great sport on and off the field that and that is why we are proud to sponsor and present the Nation of Sanctuary 2024 Rising Star Award”.

In addition to the Contribution to Sport Award the WRU garnered this week, the Welsh Rugby Union also took home the award for Best Innovation alongside Principal Partners, Vodafone at the Welsh Sports Industry Awards held at the Parkgate Hotel in Cardiff two weeks ago.

The WRU was shortlisted alongside the Commonwealth Games Wales, who were nominated for their Team Wales Business Club initiative and Welsh Cycling, who were nominated for ‘Festiva’, a unique programme developed to engage a new generation of riders in the sport. However, it was Vodafone PLAYER.Connect, the first-of-its-kind app to monitor and improve women’s health and rugby performance from the WRU and Vodafone that captivated judges and was awarded the prize for Innovation.

Mark Huckerby, Head of Sponsorship at Vodafone UK, said upon winning the award, “A huge thank you to everyone at the WRU, who have been fantastic collaborative partners, developing this technology with us, helping us refine it, tweak it so it’s valuable to female rugby players everywhere. And thanks to the Sports Science Agency, we couldn’t have done this without you.
“There’s a huge amount of people in this room who are incredibly passionate about growing women’s & girls’ sport and I think this is one small part of a framework to make sure they can do this safely. It’s about supporting recovery, wellbeing and short- and long-term welfare as well. Our journey is just beginning.”

The app which was launched in February 2023, was developed in collaboration between the WRU and Vodafone, who, together with The Sports Science Agency created and trialed the innovative system, connecting cutting edge technology with real time player data and analytics.

Vodafone PLAYER.Connect allows Wales’ female rugby team to track well-being through mood and energy scores, sleep quality, injury and soreness, menstrual cycle and training and recovery. The data is shared with the performance and medical teams enabling enhanced player and performance support and has been instrumental in helping the WRU medical team to identify health issues and build individually tailored training and recovery plans.

Nigel Walker, WRU Executive Director of Rugby said, “We’re absolutely delighted to have won this prestigious award, alongside our partners, Vodafone.

“The Vodafone PLAYER.Connect app has been truly groundbreaking since its launch ahead of the Six Nations in 2023 and has become an invaluable resource tool to the women’s squad and managements team.

“I’d like to commend the two other nominees in this category, Commonwealth Games Wales and Welsh Cycling for their fantastic game changing programmes and I wish them every success for the future.

On receiving both awards in recent weeks, Nigel added, “To have won both awards in recent weeks is testament to the dedication and hard work of the staff at the Welsh Rugby Union who go above and beyond to achieve extraordinary and long-lasting results.”

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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport
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WRU scoops two awards for work in Community and Innovation in sport