Balbriggan RFC was presented with the first-ever Spirit of Rugby Award at the Ireland v Italy 6 Nations game last weekend in recognition of the safeguarding work carried out by their Club Welfare Officer (CWO).

Their CWO has put a remarkable effort into the implementation of the Club Action Plan as part of the Spirit of Rugby programme and has been chosen as a model of good practice for other clubs within Leinster Rugby.

As a club, Balbriggan ensures the core values of the game – Respect, Integrity, Inclusivity, Fun and Excellence – are at the forefront and that everyone playing in the club enjoys their experience.

The Spirit Programme is designed by the IRFU to provide enhanced safeguarding training programmes for CWOs to promote the welfare of all mini and youth players in rugby clubs across the country.

Each province has a Spirit Officer, with Stephen Gore filling the Leinster Spirit Officer role.

The Spirit of Rugby programme aims to support players, coaches, volunteers and parents within the game and to educate them about their rights and responsibilities on and off the field. All CWOs were invited to attend the Provincial Welfare seminars, to ensure all coaches and managers have been vetted.

Stephen Gore, IRFU Spirit Officer for Leinster Rugby, said: “Balbriggan RFC and their CWO have really embraced the Spirit of Rugby programme and ensured that all stakeholders involved in the club are aware of their responsibilities. Lisa Kelly, Balbriggan’s CWO, has been very pro-active ensuring that all volunteers working with age grade teams have been vetted. She has delivered workshops to the coaches and parents informing them of their codes of conduct., the IRFU long-term player development pathway and directed them to the IRFU youth player nutrition programme ‘Eat to Compete’ to help with the dietary needs of their players.”

Spirit is intended to inform and reinforce Irish Rugby’s values across all levels of the game, creating vibrant, sustainable clubs, active volunteers and strong clean players who can demonstrate respect for the game themselves, other players, referees and supporters.

For more information on our spirit programme and on how your club can win The Spirit of Rugby Award, please contact Leinster Rugby’s Spirit Officer, Stephen Gore on stephen.gore@leinsterrugby.ie.