All systems go for new-look Washington

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Washington are looking to improve on last season’s best ever points total in the new season, which kicks off with a home match against Newton Aycliffe on Saturday.

The game marks the club’s first game at their new base at the Northern Area playing fields, having moved from Biddick Park

Washington’s head coach is former Newcastle Falcons player Stephen Wearmouth, who is supported by two coaches Dom Ryan and James Ross.

Club secretary John Pope said: “We are looking to improve on last season which was our best ever points total and position in the league.

“We are also aiming for a County Cup run this season and hope to go one better than when we lost in the final two seasons ago.

“We will be running a second XV match as much as possible – and we would love a few more players who would bolster the club to weekly second XV games against local teams. At the moment, they are held monthly.

“With the World Cup coming, we think its a perfect chance for us to get more people into rugby within Washington.”

Pope is excited about a bright future, adding: “For the past three seasons, we have played provided a competitive-standard rugby club for the population of Washington and the surrounding areas, playing in Durham/Northumberland Division Three. One of our biggest challenges has been finding a new home so we can grow and develop.

“Now, for the first time in our recent history, having two pitches enables us to host two games at the same time and look into the potential for junior and women’s teams.

“Sunderland Council have been very supportive and we have been able to secure leases on two pitches at the Northern Area.

“We are working alongside Washington AFC, who are going to rent changing rooms to us over this season.

“It is significant for Washington town as it also secures a long-term future for the sport.”

With the Rugby World Cup coming up, and three games being held in Newcastle, the sport hopes to gain some fresh momentum.

“We have grown to over 45 members this season and want the club to continue to grow,” added Pope.

“A real step for us this year has been to more than half the annual subscription costs to join the club.

“The aim is to provide an attractive and affordable sporting option for people in Washington. We have been able to do this because of the major efforts of our members in raising money – bag packing, race nights, securing grants and so on.

“Our clubhouse is Champs Sports Bar, who have been really proactive in supporting our efforts – running charity nights and fundraisers for us a few times a year.”