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Chance to honour grassroots volunteers for the SONI Community Rugby Champions Award

By Frank Brownlow

There is still a chance to nominate for the SONI Community Rugby Champions Award which will see recognition for grassroots volunteers whose contribution is essential to the success of the sport.

The award, a new initiative launched by SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) and Ulster Rugby, will honour the dedication of community volunteers across Ulster. Nominations close next Tuesday (noon).

SONI, responsible for running the electricity grid across the province, launched the initiative at the beginning of the year following the recent announcement of its title sponsorship deal with the Ulster Senior League.

Four finalists will be shortlisted from four regions and will be invited to attend Ulster Rugby's glittering end of year awards ceremony, with three runners-up 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.

Robin McCormick, General Manager of SONI, said: "We want to ensure that all volunteers from across the province have a fair chance to win the award and prize for their club.

"I would encourage everyone to put forward a volunteer they know who is worthy to be crowned our champion.

"We encourage entries across all disciplines, whether it's the head coach, a young volunteer, fundraisers, minibus drivers or tea ladies - as long as they have been involved with the club for at least six months, they are 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.

Chris Webster, Domestic Rugby Manager at Ulster Rugby, encouraged those who know a hard-working and dedicated volunteer to put them forward for nomination.

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

"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.

"I'd encourage all clubs to put forward volunteers."

To nominate, simply fill out the online application form at www.ulsterrugby.com/communitychampions

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