Over the years we have supported the Academy in a number of different way, one stipulation we have always had is that the money we give should go towards supporting something that the Club wouldn't otherwise be able to do as we don't just want the money raised by our members getting lost in the central pot.
The Elite Player Development Group (EDPG) includes players selected by Harlequins on the basis of their performances, to become members of the regional academy in due course. Typically these players will have played divisional or international rugby at under-16 level and will have demonstrated commitment beyond the average to become professional players.
Quinssa were approached by the Quins Academy staff at the start of the current season and asked if we could help with the travel costs of three young players (Nathan Thomas, Tom Palmer and Gabriel Ibitoye) who had been identified with considerable potential and who had an exceptional drive and commitment to be successful. The need to travel frequently to Surrey Sports Park in Guildford was putting a strain on their families’ finances. It was thought that instead of giving the Academy all the proceeds of our fund raising at the end of the season, as we had in the past, we could contribute during the season and help these committed youngsters get to the training ground on a regular basis.
The Committee felt it was the right activity to fund, in line with Quinssa's longstanding support of the Quins Academy.
We decided to use some of the Quinssa Academy fundraising money towards sending Sam Stuart down to play in New Zealand.
As well as being a fantastic experience for Sam the opportunity to play a club season in a demanding environment is just what Sam needs. Having missed so much of the last two seasons it gives him a great opportunity to get back up to form so that he hits the ground running for Quins next season. Sam is based at Nick Evans old club in North Harbour, East Coast Bays.
After consulting with Collin Osborne and Tony Diprose we decided to spread the funds over a wider group. We hosted the Action Against Hunger U17 tournament at the Stoop last summer and this year the second edition is being held in Toulouse. Quins have been invited and intend to send a team and Quinssa will be sponsoring that group using the Academy Fund.
We provided support over three years to send young Academy players to the Natal Sharks Academy in South Africa for three weeks. The players that were given this opportunity were George Robson, Tom Sargeant, Seb Stegmann, Chris York and Sam Smith.
As well as the merchandise sales and raffles we also ran a 100 Club until the Club set one up and we decided to close ours to avoid competition and confusion.
The first form of our support for the Academy was in providing bursaries to individual Academy players in order to help them with their travelling expenses for training sessions.
The six players who received these bursaries were: