- Didsbury Toc celebrate facilities “Fit for 15” at impressive new sports ground
- Enhancements create opportunity for more people to play rugby, retaining and recruiting new talent
Photo: RFU Archive
Didsbury Toc H RFC will celebrate the new year with a new look following completion of its magnificent £1 million construction and renovation project. As a result, the local area now boasts some of the best sports facilities in the country.
Having been chosen by the RFU to become a Lead Up and Legacy Centre for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Didsbury used the RFU’s grant of £100,000 to refurbish their clubhouse and build a new changing room block which can simultaneously cater for men, women and junior members through ten en-suite changing rooms.
The increase in changing room capacity also allows the club, in conjunction with Sport Active, Sport England and Manchester City Council, to introduce “Disability TAG Rugby”.
The RFU has committed £10m to create a network of over 500 Lead Up and Legacy Centres helping clubs to improve their facilities and pitches to be “Fit for 15” and to provide a platform on which club rugby participation throughout England can be built.
In addition, Didsbury has received a £50,000 loan from the RFU, plus significant funding from the Football Foundation, England & Wales Cricket Board and Sport England to achieve their overall target of £1 million to implement ground improvements.
While the rugby club has played a key role in these developments, it’s not only rugby players who will benefit. The local community now has its pick of first-class sports facilities, including four rugby pitches, three football pitches, one cricket square, two artificial strips for eight-a-side cricket, and a training area, all managed by Didsbury Playing Fields Association (a partnership between Didsbury Toc H RFC and Burnage Metro Football Club.)
Didsbury Hon Secretary, Trevor Wooding, who has been a Didsbury member for over 40 years, explained his excitement upon seeing the transformation: “It’s pretty fantastic! There is a real wow factor about the club now. Members simply can’t believe the standard of the new facilities. When I joined, we were housed in a converted stable block at the back of a local hotel. Now we’re one of the best equipped clubs in the country, ready to welcome newcomers of all ages.
“The younger members have also been impressed. For months they could only see building work behind fences, but as soon as the fences came down the mobile phones came out to take photos!
“We have relied on tremendous dedication from volunteers over the years and those volunteers are so proud of our new facilities. We’d like to thank everyone involved in the funding and organisation of this considerable project.”
Didsbury’s enhancements should further boost a flourishing relationship with local universities and schools aimed at retaining players and attracting new ones. The club encourages sports students at Manchester Metropolitan and University to coach their junior sides, while club players also help to develop young talent in local schools.
“The new facilities will improve the quality of the rugby experience for everyone using the site and provide more playing opportunities, especially for local people in the 14-24 age-group,” said RFU Area Facilities Manager Tom Bartram.
“This investment will also support the club’s financial sustainability leading into the Rugby World Cup and will create a focus for England 2015 and a lasting rugby union legacy in the community. The new facilities will help the club raise its profile and encourage more players, volunteers and spectators to share the special values that distinguish the sport.”