Oban’s Jonathan Sayer a force for rugby

Royal Bank Rugby Force 2021 Young Ambassador Jonathan Sayer.

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Oban Lorne Rugby Football Club’s Jonathan Sayer has been named as one of 10 winners of the inaugural Royal Bank RugbyForce Young Ambassador programme.

In a drive to get more young people into club boardrooms and to improve diversity and representation in rugby, the Young Ambassador programme sees grassroots heroes aged 18-35 from amateur clubs across Scotland put forward ideas for projects that will help their club create stronger connections with their communities, build a legacy and make positive societal change.

Coming out on top against competition from across the country, Jonathan’s Young Ambassador programme will see him run a recruitment campaign to increase membership at the club which traditionally faces challenges with player retention and consistency due to its rural location.

Emerging from the pandemic, the 27-year-old will also aim to further ties between the club and the community and engage with all age groups across the men’s and women’s game by promoting the use of the clubhouse for functions and co-ordinating large scale events outwith rugby.

Speaking to The Oban Times earlier this week, Jonathan said: ‘It’s quite exciting to be named as one of the first RugbyForce ambassadors.

‘Hopefully the programme will really take off and I will be able to look back and say ‘I was there right at the start’.’

The 10 winners, who will receive funding for their projects, were recently welcomed to the inaugural Young Ambassador forum by former Scotland International Rory Lawson.

Speaking via Zoom, the former Scotland International revealed details of the inspirational training and behind the scenes experiences with the Scotland International squads that the winners are set to receive over the next few months.

The training provided will help Young Ambassadors develop key skills for club management including financial and social media capabilities and guidance on how to help their clubs attract members. The announcement comes as the Scottish Government confirms the move to level zero and the relaxation of many of the current covid lockdown restrictions.

‘I am looking forward to getting started and building a plan to both encourage new players and put the club right at the heart of the community,’ added Jonathan, who works as a project manager at Tritonia Scientific at Dunstaffnage.

Delivered in partnership between Scottish Rugby and Royal Bank of Scotland, the Young Ambassador project is the latest extension to the RugbyForce programme which provides vital funding to Scotland’s grassroots clubs.

Last season, to support clubs that were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Royal Bank developed a toolkit for clubs, including information and advice on remaining financially sustainable when operations had stalled. ‘Return to Rugby’ kits were also provided to help clubs prepare for re-opening.

Malcolm Buchanan, chairman, Royal Bank of Scotland, Scotland Board, said: ‘Jonathan fully deserves the award and we’re looking forward to supporting him in achieving positive societal change through the Young Ambassador programme.’

For more information on Royal Bank RugbyForce 2021, visit: https://www.scottishrugby.org/clubs-and-schools/support-for-clubs/rugbyforce