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Community contributions celebrated with double nomination in URC Unity Awards

Community | 9th December 2022

Cardiff Rugby’s contributions to the rugby community have received a double recognition in the BKT United Rugby Championship’s inaugural Unity Awards.

Sponsored by the CVC Foundation, the new awards are part of URC’s Take on Tomorrow campaign, which looks to inspire change through the power of rugby, with the nominees announced on Tuesday.

The Difference Maker Award will be presented to the player who has been recognised for outstanding commitment to a charitable or social cause, while the Community Impact Award will go to the team whose community programme has been recognised for its impact in their region/province.

The judging panel features World Cup final referee Nigel Owens, the CSR Manager at CVC Jane Howard, Sports Broadcaster Emma Dodds and URC Head of Operations Amy Monaghan.

Cardiff first team duo, Max Llewellyn and Teddy Williams, have been jointly nominated for the Difference Maker Award. The homegrown pair have taken significant roles in #StayStrongForOws, a campaign to raise funds for former Wales centre Owen Williams who suffered a catastrophic neck injury while playing for the club in 2014. Llewellyn and Williams were part of the group that cycled 517km from Cardiff to Paris over the summer, raising more than £30,000 for the cause.

The other names on the shortlist include Ulster’s John Cooney, Emirates Lions duo Travis Gordon and Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Cell C Sharks back row Siya Kolisi and Alex Soroka of Leinster.

Meanwhile Cardiff Rugby Community Foundation’s work with the Visually Impaired team have also made the shortlist for the Community Impact Award, and follows recognition in the national RNIB awards earlier this year. 

Cardiff’s Visually Impaired side is one of a number of initiatives by the Foundation to ensure that rugby is accessible for people of all abilities and backgrounds. Established in 2019, there was no previous rugby team for people with sight loss anywhere in Wales.

However the team has grown from strength-to-strength, becoming a crucial social hub for rugby players with visual impairment and competing in matches against the likes of Harlequins and Worcester Warriors.

Dragons RFC, Ospreys, Edinburgh, Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls are the other names included on the shortlist.

Reacting to the awards, CEO Richard Holland said: “It goes without saying that we’re extremely proud to see these amazing contributions being recognised and celebrated in the inaugural URC Unity Awards.

“Behind the scenes, we’re fortunate to witness the incredible work done within the community on a daily basis, and they deserve all the recognition for their impact.

“The Cardiff Rugby Community Foundation and #StayStrongForOws hold a huge significance within our club. Of course we all enjoy watching our sides compete over the weekend, but to see the real difference done within the community, to impact people’s lives throughout the region, is invaluable. 

“I want to congratulate Teddy, Max and Nadine Griffiths and her team for making the shortlist, as well as the other nominees. It’s fantastic to see the Unity Award celebrating the wonderful work done by URC clubs away from the field.”

United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi said: “We are acutely aware of the fantastic community programmes that our clubs have established locally and the deserving causes that our players contribute to as well. As a league, our mission is to celebrate and highlight their successes across our platforms.”

CVC CSR Manager Jane Howard said: "The CVC Foundation is delighted to be able to support the United Rugby Championship in their efforts to shine a light on the incredible work the clubs and players are doing to make an impact in their communities. CVC applauds the clubs and players in their efforts.”

Full List Of Nominees:

Difference Maker Award

  • Alex Soroka (Leinster)
  • Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Emirates Lions)
  • John Cooney (Ulster)
  • Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Rugby)
  • Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks)
  • Teddy Williams (Cardiff Rugby)
  • Travis Gordan (Emirates Lions)

Community Impact Award

  • Cardiff Rugby
  • Cell C Sharks
  • Dragons RFC
  • Edinburgh Rugby
  • Ospreys
  • Vodacom Bulls