With the 2017 junior rugby season drawing to a close this weekend, around 500 young rugby players, coaches and their families from across Hawke’s Bay gathered for Unison’s annual Junior Rugby Medal Ceremony at the Bay Outreach Centre in Hastings on Tuesday night.
Over 160 medals were given out to players aged from 5 to 12 years old who had demonstrated excellence on and off the field during the season. Recipients were presented their medal by members of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies including former All Black, Brad Weber and current Magpies captain, Ash Dixon.
HBRU Commercial Manager, Jay Campbell said the partnership with Unison which started nine years ago had grown from strength to strength.
“Unison’s support of rugby in Hawke’s Bay makes a significant difference to our junior rugby programme. This season the number of young players in Hawke’s Bay has increased by another two percent. This continues an ongoing trend in growth of junior player numbers for the last five years. Unison’s support also allows us to continually lift the quality of the programmes we offer”
Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough, said the Unison Medal had become a highlight of the junior sports calendar for players across Hawke’s Bay.
“The Medal Ceremony started back in 2009, as part of our initiative supporting grass-roots rugby. We’re thrilled to see how this event has evolved over the years and take immense pride in seeing how delighted the recipients are to receive their medal in front of their family and friends.”
He said the Medal Ceremony played an important role in helping shape young players on and off the field with one player from each team selected for displaying several important values.
“The award recognises the values of work ethic, discipline, and fair play. These are all essential traits for any budding young person, not just in rugby but in life too."
Medal recipient, Bruno Phillips, of Hereworth School said, “I got a real buzz of being a part of the ceremony. I want to go on and become a Magpie, and winning this shows that I can do it.”
Mr Gough said its support of junior rugby, also enabled Unison to engage with children on important safety issues.
“We’re passionate about supporting our local communities, and about keeping them safe around our electrical assets within the region. Our partnership with Hawke’s Bay rugby enabled us to engage with over 3,000 children and their families involved in the sport this year.”