HALSTEAD Templars were visited by Essex RFU president Ivor Smith as the club passed another milestone in their growth - receiving the RFU’s Club Accreditation award.

Smith made the presentation in Halstead’s Royal British Legion, who have hosted the Templars post-match for three seasons now, always making sure the team, along with their visitors are well fed and watered after an afternoon of rugby.

The Club Accreditation scheme, designed to help strengthening clubs and growing the game in the communities around them, works around a framework of key drivers that clubs must demonstrate they have embedded within their structure to the standard expected by the RFU, and Halstead have done just that.

From recruiting, developing and retaining players, coaches and volunteers to having and maintaining effective and efficient facilities, management and governance, the club have demonstrated that they mean business and are committed to improving.

The final criteria, that of integration within the local community, is one of pride for the club and Smith commented on it after watching the Templars beat Bury in a friendly match.

He said: “It’s clear to see that the standing of the club in the community is one of great importance.

"When sharing facilities, from the changing rooms to the Legion for post-match activities, there is a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

"Anyone new to the club or game itself would feel comfortable getting involved.”.

Smith also had a chance to recognise two volunteers who are working behind the scenes to keep rugby in Halstead going from strength to strength.

Emma Cook was recognised for her work in the O2 Touch provision.

Monday evenings, from 7pm, the club hosts a mixed touch session to allow anyone of 14 years or older to get into the sport without worrying about the heavy contact sustained in the full 15-a-side game.

Cook has worked tirelessly as an O2 Touch ambassador to spread the word, grow the social media provision and recruit players.

This recruitment drive has seen the Templars able to get a second XV team out on four occasions so far.

The second volunteer recognised for her hard work was pitch-side first aider Jo Merry.

She has the unenviable task of trying to keep a growing number of ailing players on the pitch, assessing injuries and treating the fallen, often from both teams.

She had no qualifications when she took on the role but has, over the last couple of seasons, undertaken to rectify this and is an ever present on the touchline.

This season, more than most, Merry has had to patch players up and send them back out, with restrictions on number of substitutes, and although Halstead have occasionally finished games with fewer than 15 on the pitch, it would have happened a lot more regularly without her.

Anyone with an interest in volunteering for the club should feel free to come forward, regardless of experience, as a suitable role can be found either on match days or away from the playing aspect.

The club can be contacted via email; halsteadtemplars@gmail.com or through their Facebook page.