Sport

Anniversary used to celebrate rugby volunteers

rugbyvolunteersTHE WELSH Rugby Union will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first recorded game of rugby union in Wales with a string of events across the summer and into the 2017 season that recognise the significance of community rugby in Wales and the role of the volunteers who contribute to it.

It will start with two initiatives this week. The first will be a search for Welsh rugby’s #FabXV, a social media campaign to identify the greatest rugby volunteers across Wales. The WRU is encouraging clubs, WRU members and the public to shine a light on the good work of rugby volunteers in their community by sending videos and pictures of their local community champions to the new community Twitter handle, @WRU_Community, with a brief explanation of why they deserve a place in Welsh rugby’s first Fab XV, using the hashtag #FabXV. As well as being acknowledged for their great work by the community they serve, nominees will automatically be put forward for selection into the WRU final Fab XV.

The 15 finalists will be invited to attend one of the autumn Under Armour Series international matches at Principality Stadium as the guest of the WRU in its community box. WRU Head of Rugby Operations, Julie Paterson said: “The 150th anniversary of the first recorded game of rugby is a significant milestone. It is an opportunity to recognise the importance of rugby in Welsh society and in the hearts and minds of the Welsh nation. Intrinsically linked to that is the work done by the army of volunteers that give up their time to deliver a vibrant grass roots community game and who play such a vital role in ensuring that rugby continues to thrive in Wales.

“FabXV is the first of our 150th anniversary initiatives aimed at doing just that. We want to recognise and celebrate the diversity and passion of Welsh rugby volunteers and their contribution to the game we all love. Anybody involved in the community game will know somebody who deserves to be recognised. A working mum who finds the time to coach her child’s minis rugby team, a club secretary that has given 30 years of service to their local club, a new young referee that embodies the spirit of rugby – its courage, its discipline and its humour. “All these people deserve acknowledgement. A thank you from the community they serve is often more than any of these unsung heroes would dare to expect.

We would like to give them a little bit more. As well as being publically acknowledged for their great work we’ll be picking a Fab XV an inviting them to watch an international match at Principality Stadium as the guest of the WRU.” The second initiative is the launch of a WRU Snapchat account, the social media messaging platform on which content remains accessible for just 24 hours. The new account will offer exclusive insights into different aspects of Welsh rugby from interviews with the national squad to profiles of rising stars of the game in a way that is accessible and relevant to young Welsh rugby fans. The move is part of a long term strategy to get more people, more often and with more enjoyment involved in rugby and ensure a strong future for the game in Wales. Anybody who would like to nominate a volunteer using the hashtag #FabXV can do so on Twitter via @ WRU_Community or by emailing their information to cluboperations@ wru.wales The Club Operations email can also provide information for people interested in becoming part of the community game in Wales as a volunteer – whether that be behind the scenes in the clubhouse, as an administrator, as a referee or elsewhere on the pitch as a coach or manager etc – and put people in touch with clubs in their local area.

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Jon Coles

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