Youth players from Combe Down RFC in Bath were chosen as the lucky participants in the official match-day proceedings at Saturday’s match, which saw Bath Rugby take on Harlequins at the Rec.
The local team received a once-in-a-lifetime experience as they positioned themselves on pitch in front of cheering crowds as proud flag-bearers, standing alongside their rugby heroes forming a ‘Guard of Honour’.
The youth players, who play regularly at Holly’s Corner in Combe Down, were invited to play a key part in the event – known as a ‘Gallagher Game Day’ – courtesy of community insurance broker and risk management specialist, Gallagher, the title partner of Premiership Rugby.
The team was nominated by Ki Williams, a youth player at Combe Down and notably a community-based ‘Hero of the Game’, a title awarded by Gallagher in August as part of its programme to champion the wider rugby community and celebrate the ‘off-pitch’ heroes throughout the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.
15-year-old Ki was one of 24 local heroes chosen from across the UK, linked to the 12 Gallagher Premiership clubs, for demonstrating and championing the values and spirit of the game, as well as helping to make rugby a more inclusive and empowering sport.
He proudly joined his fellow team-mates in the official proceedings at Saturday’s game.
Over the years, Ki has developed a relationship with the Bath Rugby Foundation and has become a regular participant in Foundation activities.
Ki is set to become a ‘peer promoter’ for Bath Rugby Foundation and Premiership Rugby’s Project Rugby Hub Site at The Recreation Ground.
As part of this role, he will be a lead promoter of the sessions and a recruiter of people his age from his school, youth club and rugby club.
The Gallagher Game Day held on Saturday 2nd March 2019 was just one of 12 events hosted by the insurance broker and risk management specialist at each of the Premiership Rugby clubs throughout the season.
It allows Gallagher to form robust relationships with its local communities, in particular with grassroots rugby clubs, to highlight the values that rugby can teach to the younger generation.
As well as players from Combe Down RFC, a further 13 children were invited from friends and relatives of Gallagher colleagues and clients to become mascots for the day, enjoying a memorable experience as they ran onto the pitch with their favourite rugby stars — as well as a special ‘play on the pitch’ training experience at half-time.
Adrian Sprake, Lead Coach for the Under 16’s and Youth Chairman at Combe Down RFC, added: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Gallagher for giving us the opportunity to take part in this special event.
“Our club has a driving desire to learn and improve in the sport, so for our players to join their rugby heroes on pitch, and to witness the talent first-hand, is an experience that the team will never forget, especially for Ki, who has dedicated so much of his time to the Bath Rugby Foundation.”
Andy Ferguson, Managing Director for Gallagher in Bristol, said: “The Gallagher Game Day at Bath was a special experience for all those involved.
“Not only did it give young, aspiring rugby hopefuls the chance to see the professionals in action, but it shared a more important message – that hard work and determination truly pays off.
“As the proud title partner of Premiership Rugby, we love the fact that we can give something back to the grassroots game and we’re keen to encourage the next generation of players by promoting the message that rugby is an empowering and inclusive sport.
“As a community broker, our partnership allows us to demonstrate our commitment to support the local communities we work in, where every day we enable businesses and individuals to develop, prosper and accomplish by protecting what matters most to them.”