- Drybrook RFC in Forest of Dean host Canterbury kit launch
- RFU shines light on a local club at the heart of its community
The RFU decamped to the Forest of Dean to launch the new Canterbury England kits yesterday and shone a light on a club at the centre of its community, Drybrook RFC.
The Gloucestershire club was chosen to host the event by entering an RFU competition, with the emphasis on demonstrating the unifying role it plays in the local area, as explained by Club Chairman Paul Mason.
“We had to pen a few words about what rugby meant to our community,” he said. “But it’s a bit deeper than that, we had to display that we’ve been involved in our local community for a long time – and it’s been going on here for more than 120 years.
“Having England here today is the icing on the cake but it’s really about rugby being the focal point of our community and that’s been shown. We’ve got lots of user groups, local schools, our supporters and friends come along, because rugby football is the major part of our community.”
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England captains Chris Robshaw and Katy McLean and England Sevens skippers Rob Vickerman and Michaela Staniford were on hand show-off the new kits and afterwards participated in a training session for the girls’ and boy’s teams at the club.
Taking the launch to Drybrook is part of an RFU drive to recognise grassroots clubs in their rightful place as the lifeblood of the game, with Chief Commercial Officer Sophie Goldschmidt highlighting that the event was the first time a kit has been unveiled at local club.
She said: “We want to put clubs at the heart of the game, which is why for the first time we are launching the new kit at a grassroots rugby club. Drybrook was selected by demonstrating what rugby means to their community.”
A famous Drybrook RFC alumni, England and Litchfield scrum half Natasha Hunt, was also on hand to witness her first club’s day in the spotlight and said it was special to see an already tightknit atmosphere around the club brought closer than ever.
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In between signing autographs and meeting kids she used to babysit, the 23-year-old said: “It’s been an incredible day, people have come from all over down to the forest so it’s been really good fun.
“I think it’s the first time that I’ve been recognised more than the England captain’s themselves, which is quite nice, but seriously they’re a really tight-knit community around here so it’s really nice to bring everyone together more so than normal.
“The club do so much hard graft and the commitment of many people is incredible so it’s good for them to be recognised for that.
“This is what it’s about – none of us would be where we are if it wasn’t for people giving up their training nights and Sundays to take us to games. It’s really nice to be able give something back and for the young ones to show them that it [playing for England] can happen, because it’s happened to me from this club.”