From education to employment

Minister for Sport hails @HITZrugby ten-year Anniversary

Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch, Maggie Alphonsi, Ellis Genge and Ed Jackson were among a star-studded line-up from sports, business and the media to acclaim the winners at the HITZ Awards.

HITZ, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which works with more than 2,000 14-18-year-olds across England every year.

And this evening the hard work put in by countless individuals up and down the country was celebrated at the 2018 HITZ Awards, a glittering London ceremony at the BT Centre that saw the likes of World Cup winner Alphonsi in attendance, as well as past and present Gallagher Premiership Rugby stars Genge and Jackson.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport & Civil Society, although unable to attend, said: “I applaud all the shortlisted candidates in this year’s HITZ awards and the clubs and coaches who have worked so hard to help them succeed.

“HITZ is an excellent, long-standing example of how sport can play a role in building character and resilience among young people who are at risk of failing at school or in society. I hope the project continues its long success.”

Using rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, HITZ increases young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the necessary personal, life and employability skills to get back into education, training, apprenticeships and employment.

More than 80% of participants find work or return to education after the scheme and more than 75% report improved confidence and resilience. HITZ is delivered by Premiership Rugby’s 13-member rugby clubs with the help of its funders Land Rover, Wooden Spoon and Comic Relief.

Land Rover ambassador Alphonsi, who won the 2014 World Cup, and handed out the Rugby Ambassador Award to Bath Rugby’s Jade Whale, said: “I have seen first-hand the positive impact the HITZ programme can and has had on young people’s lives. Rugby is a powerful catalyst for good and offers these young people the skills and confidence that can put their lives back on track.”

Jade was one of four winners with Aidan Seal (Exeter Chiefs), Ross Ferguson (London Irish) and Carter Moran (Wasps) also picking up awards. Alphonsi was joined by Jackson, Fergus Mulchrone and fellow Land Rover ambassador Genge.

HITZ passed a major milestone when its 13,000th participant completed the project last summer, with the milestone making the scheme one of the longest running and most successful NEET focused sports project in England.

Wayne Morris, Community and CSR director at Premiership Rugby, said: “HITZ is proof of the power of rugby to improve character, resilience and achievement in the classroom and the workplace.

“It is also an example of how head teachers and school governors could use sport strategically to support pupils at risk of disengaging with education and could build partnerships with the professional sports sector and enhance their PSHE provision.

“We have an ambitious goal to use our brands, players and assets to make a major contribution to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in our communities. That vision is called “A Plan to Improve A Million Lives”. We look forward to working with Government, charities and the private sector to help make that dream come true. Next year’s Rugby World Cup can be a huge boost to the sport and we are ready to maximise its impact.”

The four HITZ winners were:

  • Rugby Ambassador Award, supported by Land Rover – Jade Whale (Bath Rugby)
  • Academic Achiever Award, supported by Premiership Rugby – Aidan Seal (Exeter Chiefs)
  • Champion Award, supported by Comic Relief – Ross Ferguson (London Irish)
  • Young Achiever Award, supported by Wooden Spoon – Carter Moran (Wasps)

The HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, uses rugby’s strong core values to improve life and employability skills for disadvantaged young people, underpinning success in education, life and work. 

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