Wearside rugby club set to play first match at new facilities update as part of £18m scheme
A rugby club is using its new state-of-the-art facilities to attract new members as it tries to re-establish itself.
Washington RFC is looking for budding Owen Farrells – or Bill Beaumonts for those who aren’t as young as they were.
The club is counting the days to Saturday, November 16 when a little piece of rugby history will be made. They face Sunderland RFC in the first match at the new Northern Playing Fields on Stephenson Road.
The development is part of an £18m investment at three hubs in the city aimed mainly at football. But rugby has not been left out.
The Washington section is due for completion at the end of October and will include extensive changing facilities, floodlights, a social club and 326 parking spaces. Rugby will be played there on a World Rugby compliant, All Grass Pitch (AGP) - the latest in artificial surfaces.
All of Washington RFC’s current fixtures are friendly matches. But they are looking to join a league in the future.
Club chairman, Oliver Clewes, is excited by the prospect and believes the new venue can rejuvenate the club
He said: “We’ve had a tough few years. We’ve lost players. Now we’re hoping to attract more people into rugby.
“Historically we’ve been nomadic. We played 14 or 15 games last year and they were all away from home. Now we’re trying to build an identity. This is a huge opportunity for us to tap into the 88,000 people who live in Washington and the surrounding area.
“We have 18 friendly fixtures arranged and we’re looking at this as a relaunch season. I pinch myself every day thinking about the facilities we’ll have access to at the Northern Playing Fields.
“At the moment we have players from 18, 19 up to their 50s. But we will also offer O2 touch rugby to the 14s. We’re always looking for new members of any standard. We’re open to anyone.
“It’s fun and social and about the core values of rugby. After the game there’ll be banter, sing-songs, pies, peas and pints.”
The club can be contacted through www.pitchero.com/clubs/washington