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Joe Joyce shortlisted for Gallagher Community Player of the Season

Six players have been recognised for their sterling efforts in the community after being shortlisted for the 2021-22 Gallagher Community Player of the Season award.

The award honours those who go to extraordinary lengths to make a difference within their local communities, highlighting the excellent work Gallagher Premiership Rugby players do away from the pitch. 

Bristol Bears’ Joe Joyce, Gloucester Rugby’s Lewis Ludlow, Simon Hammersley of Sale Sharks, Saracens’ Sean Maitland, Malakai Fekitoa from Wasps and Worcester Warriors’ Justin Clegg are all in contention for the top prize, with the winner being revealed on Tuesday 7 June.

All six have combined top quality on-pitch performances with serving their communities in their free time. 

Joyce has led from the front at Bristol Bears, spearheading their community engagement efforts to ensure that Bears players and staff have contributed over 230 hours of service with the Bristol Bears Community Foundation programmes.

Joyce has personally attended a wide range of sessions and events, with the Bristol born-and-bred second row hoping to inspire his community and the next generation of Bears stars. 

Maitland has been recognised for his work with the Saracens Foundation Disability rugby club, Sarries RFC, which gives young people with learning disabilities the opportunity for physical exercise and socialising. 

Maitland has given up his free time every Monday evening to volunteer with the club with enthusiasm and compassion. 

The winger has been supporting the players with their rugby development while also taking a keen interest in helping them improve their social skills and confidence. 

Sale Sharks’ Hammersley has gone above and beyond in his support of the Sharks Community Trust and the Duchenne Charity. 

Hammersley has been in regular attendance at the Trust’s Down Syndrome programme, exceeding the requirements of Sale players for community engagement. For the full-back, his charitable work also hit close to home after his nephew was diagnosed with the muscle wasting illness Duchenne, with Hammersley and his family organising a 12-hour cycling event. 

Nothing has been too much for Ludlow with the Gloucester Rugby captain spreading his time across various community initiatives. 

Ludlow has attended several holiday camps and rugby sessions for adults and children with learning disabilities, also appearing at prize-giving ceremonies as well as sending messages to people across the community. 

The flanker has also been working with local police as he works towards becoming a special constable as well as serving as a patron for Crimestoppers. 

Clegg has supported young and old in the Worcester community, joining in with the Warriors Community Foundation’s Inclusive Rugby sessions on Monday mornings whenever training allows, as well as being a familiar face at the Dementia Café on Wednesdays. 

Clegg has also been keen to inspire his teammates to get involved, spearheading the men’s and women’s teams donations to the local food bank and Ukraine humanitarian efforts. 

The 25-year-old also supported the Big Worcester Sleepout and the club’s Homeless Rugby Team with his presence seen by players as a sign of respect. 

Fekitoa is the final nominee having led fundraising efforts for crisis relief for Tonga after his home island was hit by a tsunami early in 2022. .

Fekitoa used his profile to spread awareness of what was happening in Tonga, ensuring more than £16,000 raised by Wasps supporters was delivered to those most in need.  

The judges were: Ugo Monye (Gallagher ambassador), Wayne Morris (Community and CSR Director at Premiership Rugby), Sue Anstiss (Fearless Women), Sarah Griffiths (Communications Director at Gallagher) and charity champion Mark Coultrip (part of the CSR Working Group at Gallagher, and Project Rugby volunteer) plus a poll taken amongst Gallagher colleagues.

Reflecting on selecting the nominees, Coultrip said: “Getting down to this shortlist was a real challenge because each player nominated brought something different to their community, so it was genuinely difficult to choose between the players.  

“It’s fantastic to learn about all the extra work they do over and above playing rugby. What these players are contributing is really important; it shows just how much the players and their clubs are giving something back to their communities. 

“As a charity champion at Gallagher I see how important it is, and the value created, by each of us doing a bit more than just our regular day job and giving something back.

“So it was great to be involved in the selection, and for the Gallagher employees and wider community to see what fantastic work these players are doing.” 


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