More than 130 Pershore Rugby FC players and supporters came together virtually for the club’s annual dinner and end of season award presentations.

The gathering believed to be the first such ‘virtual’ charity fundraising event of its kind in the rugby community.

 Players from all sections of the club – men, women and children - many in ‘black tie’ dress and at home with their own meal and drinks, watched a series of clips and short presentations, including surprise messages from several international rugby players, coaches and also the chief executive of the England Rugby Football Union Bill Sweeney, who praised Pershore for its ingenuity in finding ways to carry on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 All of the funds raised by the event from the sale of virtual entry tickets and a raffle – more than £700 – is being donated to the “My Name’5 Doddie Foundation,” which supports research into Motor Neuron Disease.

 The event was the idea of Pershore Rugby chairman Richard George and the club’s new president, John Woodcock, both of whom paid tribute at the event to all of the club’s volunteers and, especially, retiring, longstanding club president, Vic Haines, who will still be helping out on the committee.

Singled out for awards were, for the first team:  Top Try Scorer, Greg Hitchcock; Young Player of the Year, George Meadows; and Player of the Year, George Price. 

For the second team, Top Try Scorer was Chris Steele; and second team Player of the Year was Jacob Smith.  The highly prized overall, ‘Clubman of the Year’ award went to tireless volunteer, Rob Haines.

Mr George said: “ In these unprecedented times we need to be creative to find ways to stay together.  We are very lucky to have John Woodcock, whose technical expertise and extensive contacts in the rugby world made the event possible on Zoom and many thanks to everyone who contributed.

"For several weeks we have been using Zoom for training too thanks to a number of our volunteer coaches.  Starting with the minis and juniors they have been running ‘Backyard Ball Skills’ based on a programme developed for lockdown in New Zealand, where each person, in their own garden, follows the instructions of a coach, all of them on a video group call."