Thunder scoop Foundation of the Year

Newcastle Thunder scooped a pair of prizes at the 2017 Kingstone Press Championship & League 1  awards dinner on Monday, as the great and the good of rugby league gathered at Manchester’s Midland Hotel to celebrate the season.

Fullback Lewis Young was recognised for his scintillating form in the competition as he picked up the Young Player of the Year award, while the club’s community project was named Foundation of the Year from across the two leagues.

The Foundation of the year award recognised the efforts of coach Rob Jones and co-captain Rhys Clarke in the grassroots game.2017 has been the project’s most successful year to date, delivering the RFL’s flagship Sky Try programme into schools around the North East and developing girls rugby league through a project supported by Sport England.

Their work this year has seen over 600 hours of coaching provided to over 3,000 individuals, providing many with their first introductions to the sport and the club.

Those introductions have contributed not only to a rise in attendances at Thunder home games, but also in participation numbers in the grassroots game, with some clubs reporting more players at training and others being able to form complete new sections or teams.

The award was well received by Clarke & Jones who appreciated the recognition of their work.

Clarke said: “We’re all chuffed to be named Foundation of the Year. We do what we do because we enjoy it and want to get more people involved in rugby league, so to have that rewarded by the RFL means a lot.

“For us to be named the best foundation from both League 1 and the Championship shows that people are noticing the work that we’re doing in the North East and recognising that the game is growing.

“There’s still a lot to do, but we’re hoping this next 12 months will be even better. We’ve started a new term of delivery for Sky Try, where we’ve welcomed a number of new schools and others where we’re going back to work with kids we last saw in year 7.

“It’s shaping up to be a good new year.”