Plymstock Albion Oaks get a big surprise as Exeter stars turn up to training session with Aviva

Plymstock Albion Oaks get a big surprise as Exeter stars turn up to training session with Aviva

Grassroots Giveaway competition winners – Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC

In December, Aviva gave grassroots rugby clubs across the UK the chance to win £2,000 worth of kit and equipment, along with a training session with an Aviva Premiership community coach. It’s all about celebrating grassroots clubs and the value they bring to their communities up and down the country.

To celebrate the inclusive and diverse nature of the sport, teams and clubs from all areas and formats of the game were able to enter the competition. Aviva received entries from junior teams to veteran teams, wheelchair rugby to walking rugby, women’s teams to mixed ability rugby, deaf rugby and even blind rugby.

In order to win this fantastic prize, clubs simply had to tell Aviva why they should receive the kit and training session in no more than 300 words. Just under 1000 entries later, 12 winning clubs were selected by a panel of judges from Aviva and Premiership Rugby including England World Cup winner and Aviva ambassador Will Greenwood.

Introducing Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC

Grassroots rugby club Plymstock Albion Oaks U12s were the first of our 12 winners to be given the good news, but before me and the team from Aviva arrived to tell them, only the competition winner and the team’s coach were informed of their success in order to maintain the surprise for the rest of the team.

Once the U12s had arrived and training got underway, everyone was brought together and we were introduced to the Grassroots Giveaway winner, Matthew. A former Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC player and fantastic advocate who first joined the club at the age of 12, Matthew credited the side for helping him to become the person he is today through an improved level of confidence, lifelong friends and fond memories that he still holds dear more than two decades on. We also met Exeter Chiefs community coach, Andrew who would help lead the evening’s training session.

However, there was one final twist in store for the young team, as Exeter Chiefs players Jack Yeandle, Dave Dennis and Michele Campagnaro turned up to join in with their session and meet the children and their parents as part of the unforgettable experience.

The training session and surprise was a huge success with both the Plymstock U12s and their parents smiling and stopping for photographs afterwards. And while it was only the U12s that enjoyed the training session, the whole of the Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC will benefit from the £2000 worth of kit and equipment.

Exeter Chiefs answer fans questions

Following their surprise visit I caught up with the Exeter players and asked them whether they could answer some fans questions submitted earlier in the week. This is what they had to say:

So who’s the fastest player at Exeter Chiefs?

Michele Campagnaro: Jack Yeandle (laughing), no? Then James Short probably (to Jack Yeandle’s disappointment)

Who’s the strongest player in the gym?

Jack Yeandle: There’s a few, there’s this guy (points to Michele Campagnaro).He’s very strong, look at his physique!

MC: I’d say James Freeman, Harry Williams or Elvis (Taione) maybe.

Have you spoken to Sam Simmonds following his two try performance for England at the weekend?

JY: Did he score? (laughs)

MC: We haven’t actually, lots of players have probably messaged him so we leave him to it and will when he comes back.

The Exeter Chiefs have a real variety of ‘unique haircuts’! Do you all use the same hairdresser?

JY: Yeah, but not that I’d choose mine obviously (laughing as he takes off his hat and reveals no hair)

MC: Yeah we’ve got one who does most of the guys’ hair!

Do you have a best friend at the team?

Dave Dennis: Not really, they’re all good guys. I haven’t long moved from Australia, but since then everyone has been really welcoming. Though I tend to hang out with some of the older players like Phil Dollman and those sort of guys.

Before you moved over did you speak to any of the Australian players at Exeter Chiefs about moving to the club?

DD: No actually, I had a bit of a chat with Ollie Atkins. Don Armand had already spent some time at the club so I had a bit of a chat with him and then obviously Rob Baxter. It was a bit of a gamble but it’s paid off!

You have spoken before about enjoying a bit of cricket, is that something you think you’d like to be doing if you weren’t playing rugby?

DD: Yeah that was the dream as a kid, I think every Aussie kid grows up wanting to play for Australia. I spent many of my years and childhood playing cricket and pursuing the green cap. I’d like to think that if I wasn’t playing rugby I’d be able to throw a few down but my body is a bit bashed now so I don’t know.

Do the club manage your diet or do you manage that yourself?

DD: We get breakfast and lunch supplied every day so obviously it’s controlled by what you eat and portion size but there is still a big responsibility on the individual to manage their diet outside of training hours, dinners, weekends all that sort of stuff. I think there is a mutual respect between the strength and conditioning and fitness staff and the players that you look after yourself. Obviously it’s nice to let down your hair now and then, but the majority of the time your priority is to be a rugby player so you’ve got to make sure you lead a healthy lifestyle.

And finally, how many times a week do you train?

DD: Four days training and playing one, so five of the seven days we are active at the club and doing work. It can be quite taxing but it’s a great lifestyle and I really enjoy it!

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