- Lincolnshire club sees jump in player numbers
- Success in winning NatWest RugbyForce “Pride of the Nation” key to influx
North Hykeham’s success in winning the NatWest RugbyForce “Pride of the Nation” competition has helped the Lincolnshire club to run a third XV for the first time since 1995.
North Hykeham received a visit from former England captain Phil Vickery during NatWest RugbyForce weekend in June after the club received over 21,000 votes online, which demonstrated the strength of local support for them.
As a result of the publicity, North Hykeham have benefited from an influx of new players, many of them new to rugby, which has enabled them to put the dark days of two years ago behind them.
Then, North Hykeham were struggling to raise one team for the matches they played outside the league structure but they have since re-entered the Midlands Leagues, field a second XV in the Lincolnshire Merit League and are now fielding a third team on a regular basis.
“We successfully re-established our second team last season and the aim for this season was to run a third team again,” said North Hykeham club captain Andy Rush.
“To be honest we thought it would be more a veterans’ XV but it’s turned out to be mostly a novices’ side with one or two of the veterans in there to help out.
“We’ve had a lot of players who are new to rugby or who played at school and haven’t played since and we’ve had around 65 at training on a regular basis. It’s the first time that we have been able to put out a third team for 18 years.
“The publicity we got through NatWest RugbyForce and winning the “Pride of the Nation” competition and having Phil Vickery at the club gave us a lot of publicity and helped to raise the profile of the club.
“That was a key factor in helping us to attract new players. The work we did with the £4,000 we received from NatWest RugbyForce meant that we have been able to refurbish our changing rooms and shower area and improve our facilities.
“We have also put a barrier around our first team pitch and bought posts for the new second team pitch that we have across the road at North Kesteven School.”