- Pitch development brings major boost for community
- Lead Up and Legacy Centre status also granted to the club
Photo: RFU Archive
Wallsend Rugby Football Club celebrated a major milestone in its 51-year history recently when the ground-works were launched which will transform disused grassland on St Peter’s Road into two high-quality rugby pitches.
The club has secured funding of over £215,000 from North Tyneside Council, the Rugby Football Union and Sport England to convert the land for use by the club, as well as school and college children across Tyne and Wear.
In the process, the £80,000 support from the Rugby Football Union has resulted in Wallsend RFC becoming a designated Lead Up and Legacy Centre for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which is being staged in England and Wales – a significant step for a club which has previously seen its players having to train and play across two different sites.
Councillor Eddie Darke was at the official ground-breaking ceremony, which was also attended by youngsters from Churchill Community College in Wallsend. He said: “North Tyneside Council is hugely supportive of Wallsend RFC’s plans and it is with pleasure we have been able to cut the turf today on a development that will have an extremely positive impact for many across the borough.
“As well as leasing the land to Wallsend RFC we have contributed £86,000 to the project, which underlines how seriously we take our commitment to providing the best sporting infrastructure in the areas we serve.”
Ryan Thirlaway, chairman of Wallsend RFC, added: “Although it has taken a long time to get to this point, it has been worth all the effort and we are thrilled that work has finally started. I am very grateful to the Council, our funders and to the club members, who are volunteers and who have worked tirelessly to make our dream a reality.”
Steve Grainger, rugby development director at the Rugby Football Union, said: “The new facilities will improve the quality of the rugby experience for everyone using the site and increase playing opportunities, especially for those based locally aged 14-24.
“Our investment is designed to support the club’s financial sustainability leading into the Rugby World Cup and will create a focus for England 2015, as well as a lasting rugby union legacy for rugby in the community.”
David Mitchinson, senior grants manager at Sport England, which committed £50,000 of Lottery funding from its Protecting Playing Fields Olympic Legacy Fund, was also present
He said: “This is a momentous occasion for Wallend RFC, where club members have shown real determination to open up access to rugby for local youngsters – a significant and commendable goal in a region dominated by football.
“A condition of the funding we have given ensures the pitches are protected and maintained for at least 25 years which is very encouraging indeed. There are exciting times ahead for the club and we wish all involved the best of luck with what lies ahead.”