A rugby volunteer who made a significant impact on the new women’s team at Oxford Harlequins last summer has been recognised nationally after being shortlisted by the Rugby Football Union for the Honda Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Daisy Hopkins, 25, is a player, team manager and club fixtures secretary at the club and has been nominated in the Unsung Hero category which recognises local heroes who have had a major impact in their clubs and communities and demonstrated their commitment to the game over the past 12 months.

Daisy will now head to the national final at Twickenham in September when volunteers from across the country are celebrated as part of Honda’s Volunteer Recognition Programme. 

Three overall winners will be announced on the evening for each of this year’s categories: Unsung Hero, Connecting the Community and Game for All, which recognises volunteers who have provided an inspirational and diverse offer to engage with their local community.

Daisy was just one of a handful of female players in the team when it formed in July 2021, though through her role as fixtures secretary she has made a significant impact on boosting numbers. She has been influential in retaining existing players as well as recruiting new ones, regularly getting to the club early to act as a friendly face for new members. 

Speaking at the regional Oxfordshire RFU CB award ceremony, Daisy said: “It feels like a nice testament to the amount of work that I’ve put in. I think that a lot of people on the outside don't really realise how much work goes on behind the scenes by volunteers to make things happen. It was nice to shed a light on that. And not just for me, obviously I've put the work in but it's a team effort and without the support of the team as well, then none of it would have happened.

"Particularly for the women's rugby team, it’s a nice reminder of how far we've come in such a short space of time. 

There are now two women’s teams at the club, and members nominated Daisy for hard work in boosting women’s participation at the club, saying: “Daisy has helped take our club from just a few female players 10 months ago, to the point now where we have 2 full women’s teams. Her enthusiasm is unrivalled and has been massive in terms of recruitment and retention of players. The club wouldn’t be where it is now without her.”

The Honda Volunteer Recognition Programme brings the opportunity to thank those who have gone above and beyond this year for teams, clubs, referees’ societies and educational establishments.

With Honda recently coming on board as a partner, and supporting volunteering in the grassroots game, this year’s Awards will help to recognise and celebrate volunteers for their achievements and efforts, both on and off the field.

Speaking about the awards, RFU President HH Jeff Blackett said: “I am delighted that through the Honda Volunteer Recognition Programme, we are able to recognise the exceptional work that has gone into getting Rugby Clubs back up and running over the last year. There are so many outstanding volunteers who have really made a difference and the Honda Volunteer of the Year awards provides a great opportunity to say thank you.”

Jean-Marc Streng, President Honda UK, added: “Honda was built upon the Power of Dreams, that same challenging spirit can be found in abundance at local Rugby clubs up and down the country. “Honda UK is proud to help recognise the volunteers who work tirelessly to support their local Rugby communities.

Over 100,000 volunteers give back to grassroots rugby, week in, week out. From the kit washers to the line painters, the bus drivers to the tea makers, the game that we all know and love wouldn’t be the same without the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

Volunteers are the backbone of grassroots rugby in England. If you’d like to get involved and make a difference at your community club, visit: www.englandrugby.com/volunteering