Grassroots winners North Shields Rugby Club get a shock when the Newcastle Falcons turn up for training
The fourth winner of the Aviva Grassroots Giveaway competition was North Shields Rugby Club. Their first and second teams got a training session to remember when Newcastle Falcons' Ally Hogg, Sinoti Sinoti and club captain Will Welch turned up to put the boys through their paces.
When me and the team from Aviva ventured up to Newcastle to give North Shields Rugby Club the good news, we were greeted by the club’s chairman and competition winner, Tim. I sat down with Tim and asked him about his entry, the club’s history and the positive impact they’re having on the local community. Here are just a few of the things that stood out to me.
For those that don’t know, North Shields Rugby Club is one of three rugby clubs within a stone’s throw of each other. The Northumberland County Club play in the Durham and Northumberland 2 league and the side currently boast 3 senior teams, a veterans side and an under 17s team, but this wasn’t always the case. Following a big drive by its members earlier this season, the club successfully managed to recruit 19 new players. However, that isn’t even the most impressive accomplishment of the rapidly growing side.
As an inclusive club situated in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country, North Shields Rugby Club has made inroads into tackling the social issues in the local area. The club recently took it upon themselves to create a youth section and, despite never having had a colts or junior section until 6 months ago, they now boast a thriving full U18s side with 22 players, many of who had either been lost to club rugby or had no rugby background at all.
Moving forward, the club wants to build on its recent success and aims to introduce rugby to a younger age group by working in local schools over the course of the next 12 months. They emphasise their safe, friendly, fun environment for players to develop their game, where players can enjoy the experience regardless of their situation or circumstances.
In addition, the club play an annual fixture against a specific regiment in the armed forces in memory of one of their former players, who died whilst serving in the army. Despite the various obstacles that life has thrown at these 2 sides, they always make time for this great contest, bringing old and new payers together, emphasising even further the real sense of community that exists at the North Shields Rugby Club.
After we arrived, almost 50 North Shields players turned up and prepared for their training session as usual. Once everyone was ready, the head coach introduced the players to Ash, the community coach from Newcastle Falcons, who revealed that North Shields had won the Grassroots Giveaway competition. As part of their prize, Ash told them he would lead the evening’s training session.
The announcement was met with cheers and applause from the North Shields players but that wasn’t all.Shortly afterwards, there was one final surprise, as Newcastle Falcons and Scotland and Samoa internationals Ally Hogg, Sinoti Sinoti and club captain Will Welch turned up to help coach the session and join in with the various different exercises, calling on their own experience to help provide unique tips and training advice.
The training session and surprise was a huge success with the players. For many of the newer players, the event provided a real source of inspiration, with the key message coming from Will Welch. Will not only came from the local area, but is also the Falcons’ youngest ever club captain. He epitomised what you can achieve if you put your mind to it and continue to work hard.
To find out more about North Shields rugby club here.