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February 2019 - South Side Advertiser

Entries for SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) and Ulster Rugby’s Real Rugby Heroes Award (formerly the Community Champions Award) will close at noon on Monday 4th February and organisers are calling for last minute nominations.  Pictured at the launch of the SONI Real Rugby Heroes is (L-R):  Wiehahn Herbst, Ulster Rugby, Patrick Baird, (Adult winner 2018), Nick Fullerton, Director, SONI, Rob Lyttle, Ulster Rugby, Marcell Coetzee, Ulster Rugby, Noel Brown, (Youth & Mini Rugby winner 2018)

Entries for SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) and Ulster Rugby’s Real Rugby Heroes Award (formerly the Community Champions Award) will close at noon on Monday 4th February and organisers are calling for last minute nominations from the South Belfast area such as Cooke, Instonians, Malone and Queen’s.

Now in its fourth year, the Award scheme was initiated by SONI in 2015 as part of its sponsorship of the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership and has grown in popularity each year with more clubs across Ulster putting forward their best volunteers for recognition. 

Nick Fullerton of SONI said: "Grassroots rugby plays an important part in many communities across Ulster.  These clubs provide young people with the opportunity to enjoy the physical, social and mental health benefits of rugby and provide the first steps on the pathway to getting involved in the game.  Local rugby clubs are about more than just teams, they enrich family and community life and provide a focal point for communities to develop, participate in and enjoy the game.

“Every season we meet dozens of inspirational volunteers who play a significant role in ensuring the smooth running of their club.  We continue to be humbled by the work they do and the young people they support through their volunteering.” 

There will once again be two categories to enter:

  • Adult – aimed at volunteers who work in adult rugby including men and women’s rugby and adult disability rugby
  • Youth and mini rugby – aimed at volunteers who work within youth and mini rugby including youth disability teams

Each category winner will receive £1,000 bursary for their local club and the two runners up will be awarded £500.

Chris Webster, Head of Rugby Development at Ulster Rugby said: "This competition has grown in popularity since its inception four years ago and we are thrilled to have SONI’s continued support for the game at a grassroots level.

"In every club there are the fundraisers and problem solvers, the caretakers and motivators. The people who keep the kits washed, the balls pumped, the showers running and the grass cut.   We believe volunteers are the very essence of local rugby clubs and it’s important that their contribution is recognised not only by the club, but the players and parents alike.  This award is a fantastic opportunity to do that. 

“We’d like to remind everyone that previous entrants can be nominated again – so get entering!” 

The deadline for entries is Monday 4h February 2019, anyone can nominate by filling out the online application form at

For more information on SONI visit or follow on twitter @soni_ltd


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