<1R> Harlequins Players have been getting out into the community recently, capitalising on the popularity of rugby at this present time within the grass roots of the game.
On Sunday 7th October, Mark Lambert attended New Milton & District RFC's 12th annual festival of rugby. Attended by over 2,000 people, showcasing 68 teams, with over 1000 children playing 138 matches it was the clubs largest ever event!
There were many firsts on the day including the running of two festivals simultaneously, the New Clubhouse was open for the first time in a long time following a major refurbishment and the many people present were treated to some fine rugby with New Milton taking the top slot in 3 of the 6 age groups and reaching the finals in the others.
Mark Lambert (Harlequins and 2006 Six Nations England Under 21) and Sean Barry of Drew Construction presented the cups and medals to the winners.
New Milton Mini's chairman Derek Johnston said 'The event was the most successful to date, the quality of rugby was very high and attended by the entire community. The kids really enjoyed Mark being there, having the chance to meet the Harlequins player in person, while Mark had an opportunity to survey the new clubhouse, all a further indication of the successful community relationship between Harlequins and New Milton & District RFC, for which and to whom I am very grateful.'
Elsewhere Osterley based Grasshoppers RFC organised and hosted a TAG Rugby Festival for Hounslow Primary Schools with the Rugby World Cup as its theme. Quins player, Stuart Abbott (member of the winning 2003 England Rugby World Cup Squad) was the Guest of Honour representing both Quins, and Quins 2007/08 nominated charity, Wooden Spoon.
24 Schools represented the 20 countries in the world cup plus 4 other rugby playing nations. Pre-tournament curriculum work was provided, with each school asked to learn about the country and invited to prepare a collage on their adopted country, with the three best being displayed at Hounslow Civic Centre.
Strand on the Green School (Turnham Green) representing Wales won the final against Tonga, and Hounslow Heath School (representing Samoa) won the collage competition.
Organiser Hugh Saville said: 'Please pass on the thanks of Middlesex Wooden Spoon to him (Abbott) for coming along to the Grasshoppers Hounslow Schools RWC tournament today. I know that the Grasshoppers and the kids were delighted that he took the time and trouble to come along.'
'Grasshoppers are big supporters of Spoon and are doing some wonderful work to build up rugby in the community, so Spoon is always extremely grateful when Quins can arrange for a leading player to come along and support them with this work. Despite taking place in abysmal weather conditions, today's event was a huge success and Stuart's appearance, and the time he took to meet the participating teams definitely contributed to this.'
Quins players Stuart Abbott and Alex Rogers have also recently helped unveil the first ever rugby pitch at Ashcombe School in Surrey. With the help of Dorking RFC, Aschcombe School have caught onto the rugby mania currently sweeping through schools at the moment and created the state schools first ever rugby pitch to the delight of hundreds of youngsters eager to play the game.
As part of the official opening day, Abbott and Rogers took part in a coaching clinic run by P.E. teacher Andy Leane to help Year 7 children learn the basics of the game.
David Strettle has been doing his bit too by appearing at an event to relaunch the Southwark Tigers, a rugby club for kids aged between 6 and 12, and to celebrate the introduction of Burgess Park's first set of rugby posts.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.