DURFC collect the Core Values Award and the Vaughan Parry Williams award at the SRFU University Awards 2021
(14 May 2021)
The Coronavirus pandemic has affected us all but the prospect of not being able to train or play together is huge within University sport. Lifelong friendships are often made on the rugby pitch but having the opportunity to play the sport you love and socialise with other like-minded individuals taken away is something every University athlete in the country will have struggled with.
However, not all athletes will have had the initiative and motivation to turn these barriers into the opportunities that DURFC have done. Despite the challenges faced over this last year during the global pandemic, the rugby club, expertly lead by Dan Blackman and Ben Fowles , have proactively remained engaged within the programme and have busied themselves with fundraising activities and initiatives to help both the local and wider community.
Their actions have been recognised by the Student Rugby Football Union (SRFU) 2020/21 and we would like to offer our congratulations to DURFC who were announced as the winners of the RFC Core Values award and coach Paul Baty picked up the Vaughan Parry Williams. This award is to recognise someone who has changed the game through their outstanding contribution to University rugby.
The current cohort of players have always been a close knit group but what is remarkable is how they have found ways to remain engaged in the rugby programme and stay true to the values that they set out without ever stepping onto the field.
Over the last 12 months they have:
- Donated 335kg food to Durham food bank
- Hosted a weekly quiz night for all Team Durham sports clubs throughout lockdown 1
- Raised over £9000 for Movember
- Raised over £2000 for NHS charities
- Updated the facilities at Durham City Rugby Club by painting all the changing rooms and putting up bench seating around the ground
- Supported the Tom Miller Oddballs campaign, raising over £500
- Promoted and attended a workshop detailing women’s safety and risk, and are in talks with Team Durham and the charity Beyond Equality to host more interactive workshops
The impact has been immeasurable both within the local community and also nationally and is evidenced in the numbers above. This season, the club courageously changed the game, playing by their own rules to overcome adversity and positively impact those around them. In doing so, friendships were still made and with comradery stronger than ever, without ever stepping foot on a rugby pitch the group set a fine example to us all.
Head of Rugby Alex Keay said, “I am so pleased and proud of the boys, this was a huge effort and massively deserved. Dan and ben did a great job of leading the group.”
Keay continued, “Paul Baty is an absolute legend at Durham – he has a brilliant rapport with the students and is a fantastic volunteer and support to all of the Rugby Club programmes , players , teams and initiatives. Thanks Paul and very well deserved.”
Mark Brian, Head of Sport, said, “We are exceptionally proud of how all of our student athletes have dealt with the unprecedented circumstances of the last year. Durham University Rugby Club in particular have been outstanding in this arena and have displayed a huge amount of maturity and creativity to come up with high a number of quality initiatives and opportunities that kept the club together. They have gone above and beyond to help both the local and wider community and in turn have kept themselves motivated and engaged in a year where playing rugby has not been the focus. Looking forward, it will be really exciting to see the positive impact this will have both on and off the pitch.”