The sparkling success of the Rugby World Cup is reflected in bright new floodlights in Belper after the town’s rugby club was chosen as a centre to support the tournament.
As part of hosting the World Cup, the Rugby Football Union (RFY) pumped £10 million into creating a network of more than 500 lead-up and legacy centres across the country. These centres are aimed at providing a platform on which participation in club rugby throughout England can be built.
Belper was among the clubs to get the nod, and as part of their status as a legacy centre, they received a matched funding grant of £27,000 to go towards new, permanent floodlights at their Strutt’s Field ground on Derby Road.
Now the lights have been officially switched on, complete with a celebration match that was organised by club president Simon Blount (see below) and featured many of Belper’s well-known former players.
Blount said: “The club are absolutely thrilled to have been able to enhance our facilities with the new floodlights.
“This means we can train more effectively and attract more players to our friendly, growing club.
“Thanks to the RFU grant, we have been able to install the lights much sooner than anticipated. They will also enhance our work within the community, specifically the Belper Games and the Belper Goes Green evening events, by providing a well-lit, safe environment.”
As well as the £27,000 donation, Belper received an additional grant of £5,000 from the RFU, with whom they are now engaged in a partnership to boost club rugby.
The RFU’s area facilities manager, Pete Shaw, said: “The new floodlights will improve the quality of the rugby experience for everyone using the Strutt’s Field site and provide more playing opportunities, especially for local people in the 14-to-24 age-group.
“This investment will also support the club’s financial sustainability coming out of the Rugby World Cup and will create a lasting rugby union legacy for rugby in the community.
“The floodlights will help the club raise its profile and encourage more players, volunteers and spectators to share the special values that distinguish the sport.”
Proud president Blount added: “We are delighted that our project won approval following its original identification by the Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire RFU.
“We will now have some of the best facilities in the area that local people from around Belper can use during the week.
“The 2015 Rugby World Cup has inspired a new wave of people of all ages to become involved in rugby, and this RFU investment will help our club to be even better equipped to welcome newcomers.”
Among the VIPs to give the new floodlights the seal of approval is Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid-Derbyshire, which includes Belper.
Mrs Latham, OBE, said: “This investment by the RFU is excellent news, and I am really happy for everyone at Belper RUFC. The club has an enthusiastic group of hard-working volunteers. This funding will enable them to do even more for young people in the community in the future, and let the facilities be used throughout the day.”
Belper are a well respected and flourishing rugby club, boasting three senior teams, a veterans’ side and also several teams for youngsters at all age groups, from under-sixes to under-19s. They also run a ladies’ XV.
Training at the Strutt’s Field ground takes place every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm, with matches every weekend. The first team’s next home match in the Midlands 3 East (North) division of the National League is against Grimsby on Saturday, December 12.