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Local MP in touch with rugby at Grasshoppers

09 August 2013

  • Middlesex club highly praised for senior and junior strength
  • O2 Touch Centre and pitch grant among latest developments
Mary Macleod MP with Grasshoppers club chairman Gary Cunningham

Photo: RFU Archive

Mary Macleod, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, visited Grasshoppers RFC this month and praised the Touch Rugby activity at the busy Middlesex club.

Mary was the guest of Grasshoppers and the Rugby Football Union at an inaugural charity mixed Touch Rugby tournament that showed off the club’s participation in the O2 Touch programme.

Grasshoppers were one of the first rugby clubs in the country to set up as an O2 Touch Centre, making the fun, non-contact version of the game easily available in the local community.

Club chairman Gary Cunningham was able to introduce this aspect of the club and many others to Mary Macleod as the MP spent more than two hours at the Macfarlane Lane ground, watching the charity event that raised hundreds of pounds on the evening for the RFU Injured Players Foundation.

Grasshoppers pride themselves on offering social and competitive rugby at all levels and ages for men and women, juniors and minis – with their new status as an RFU ‘focus club’ for women’s and girls’ rugby, they are continuing to ensure rugby union can be played by everyone who wants to.

Mary Macleod MP said: “Grasshoppers is a great club and I enjoyed spending the evening with them while they raised funds for the Injured Players Foundation through a touch rugby festival. 

“I was interested to learn more about touch rugby and can see why it’s getting more and more popular. Everyone can get involved, it’s affordable and it’s great fun.

“Speaking to the club’s volunteers and RFU coaches, I know that there is fantastic work going on in my constituency in schools and clubs to get people active and enjoying rugby.”

Ty Sterry, the RFU’s Middlesex rugby development officer, organised the touch tournament which included teams from Sky Television and Heathrow Airport Ltd, jointly with Grasshoppers RFC’s Louise Latter.

Staff at Heathrow have recently adopted touch rugby as their core sport for the year.

“Grasshoppers is a vibrant community club with interesting development projects, especially around the women’s and girls’ game,” said Ty Sterry.

“They have a collection of excellent volunteers including some involved at county level whose expertise rubs off on their friends and colleagues at the club.”

Gary Cunningham said: “Grasshoppers are very proud to have hosted Mary Macleod at our club and to have been involved in the Touch tournament. We hope to make this an annual event and to see it grow in the years to come.”

Grasshoppers’ success as a hub for community sport has been formally recognised on several occasions.

In 2009 they were the first club in the London & South East region, and the third in England, to receive the RFU’s Whole Club Seal of Approval, and in the same year Grasshoppers received an RFU President’s XV award for social inclusion.

In 2012 they celebrated 25 years at their present MacFarlane Lane home, which was the venue in April this year for the fourth annual St George’s Day Girls Festival, with 26 teams and 300 girls playing rugby.

The good news kept coming with a RFU pitch maintenance grant among the Lead Up & Legacy awards linked to England hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

And for the record Sterry’s RFU team carried off the inaugural charity Touch trophy with a team comprising rugby development officers and community rugby coaches.