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Tigers teenager up for prestigious award

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A member of the Leicester Tigers HITZ programme has been nominated for a prestigious national award.

Ryan Driver has been shortlisted for the HITZ Best Rugby Performer after overcoming his learning disabilities to attend Brooksby Melton College and play for Coalville RFC.
With the help of HITZ, Ryan has overcome his difficulties with Asperger’s and autism to integrate himself in a new environment and a new city.

He is joined on the shortlist by Exeter Chiefs’ Ash Carter and Gloucester Rugby’s Shannon Duckett. Ash persevered through his social anxiety disorder which had caused him to avoid team sports and the gym environment while Shannon, of Hucclecote Ladies, has overcome personal issues to excel on the field and in the classroom.

Through the power of rugby, HITZ tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today like crime, mental health challenges and unemployment.

The HITZ Best Rugby Performer award, supported by Land Rover, recognises a young person for their progress and development in the sport of rugby – on and off the pitch.

The award rewards progress in physical fitness and skill and recognises how rugby’s core values have supported them in overcoming a range of challenges on their journey back to education, employment or training.
Richard Duncan, sponsorship and partnerships manager at Jaguar Land Rover UK, said: “The stories that come out of HITZ are genuinely inspiring; youngsters are benefiting from the programme and overcoming any number of challenges, the nominees for the HITZ Best Rugby Performer are no different and should be incredibly proud of their progress.

“All three of the nominees are incredibly worthy candidates and testament to the great work the Premiership Rugby clubs and HITZ officers are delivering. Programs like HITZ really make a huge impact in local communities, and that is very much what we at Land Rover are looking to achieve as a partner.”

This year’s HITZ awards will take place at Barclays HQ on Monday, November 28 where participants, mentors and former international rugby stars will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements.

HITZ is delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Land Rover, Barclays, Comic Relief and Wooden Spoon. HITZ uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.