Newark Rugby Club has been nominated for a prestigious national award for its work with young players.
It is one of six clubs named in the Youth And Mini section at the National Rugby Awards, which will be held at Twickenham at the end of the month.
The club coaches rugby from under-six to senior youth level for more than 400 boys and girls.
Its success has been highlighted by former youth player Joe Heyes, who is now at Leicester Tigers’ Academy, gaining selection for the England Under-18s tour of South Africa this month.
Last season Matt Law was selected for England Counties Under-18s — the fourth Newark player to gain international honours at that level in successive years following Ben Dixon, Ben Usher and James Newman. Newark’s under-15s girls were also national semi-finalists a year after the club were national champions.
Youth director David Duddles said the nomination was a reward for all the volunteers involved with the mini and youth set-up over many years.
“It’s great to be nominated and to see our efforts recognised,” he said.
“There has been a mini and youth section, and successful youth sides, for many years with the majority of our current 1st XV squad coming through the ranks.
“But the success over the past seven or eight years has highlighted how we are progressing — the number of people who have gained representative honours, nationally, regionally and more locally, has really come to the fore in the last four or five years.
“To see four players gain England honours in successive seasons was a remarkable achievement and a reward for the way the club’s coaching system works alongside schools, the Notts Lincs and Derbys squads and the Leicester Tigers Academy.
“The representative honour for Joe Heyes is one of the highest for any of the youth players in recent years. That has highlighted the success of the youth set-up at Newark.”
'This is not an overnight success'
Duddles said the accolade was down to the contributions and voluntary work of many people over many years.
“This is not an overnight success — this is something that has happened over a number of years,” he said.
“While we are proud to receive the nomination, it is important to remember there has been a lot of hard work by lots of people, some of whom are no longer actively involved in the club.
“Their efforts laid the foundations in the early years that have allowed us to get into this position.
“We are the envy of a lot of clubs, not just in the Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire area but in the East Midlands as well.”
Duddles said the youth end of the section was one that often got plaudits because it had competitive success and representative honours.
The youth and mini section, however, also included many youngsters playing non-competitive rugby from the age of six.
“Overall we have more than 450 young members from the age of six. That’s quite incredible,” Duddles said.
“We also have a successful girls’ section at under-13, under-15 and under-18 levels.
“It all makes us one of the largest mini and youth sections in Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire — and further afield.
“It takes a lot of work from a lot of volunteers. We try to support our coaches as well and are keen on seeing them reach their potential.”
There were more than 1,000 nominees overall in 12 categories for the National Rugby Awards.
David Rhodes, of Nottingham Rugby, who is a big supporter of Newark, has been nominated for the Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award.
The awards evening, which will be held on August 30, was set up to celebrate all levels of the sport, from grassroots to professional level.