Saints march on to help Hadleigh

RUGBYPREMIERSHIP giants Northampton Saints have stepped in to help struggling club Hadleigh.Guinness Premiership side Saints have donated a signed team shirt to the club to help raise funds, and are looking into sending some of their top players to offer coaching.

PREMIERSHIP giants Northampton Saints have stepped in to help struggling club Hadleigh.

Guinness Premiership side Saints have donated a signed team shirt to the club to help raise funds, and are looking into sending some of their top players to offer coaching.

Hadleigh, who have now been removed from the Suffolk RU's 'Clubs at Risk' register, have held their heads high during one of the most turbulent periods the club has ever faced.

Despite losing 12 first team players to other local clubs and several to retirement, and having a long list of injuries, the club have managed to make all but one of their London Three North East fixtures, and despite disappointing results on the pitch, the spirit and determination of the club has never been higher.

Chairman John Halls said: “Losing such a large number of good quality first-team players at the start of the season was a big blow to the club, and we have had a real fight on our hands.

“This offer of support from such a big club is absolutely fantastic, and we look forward to welcoming Northampton to Layham Road.”

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Hadleigh, who just a few seasons ago were riding high in London Three North East, and have won the Suffolk Chadacre Cup for four of the last six years, first ran into trouble when local businessman Terry Sands left the club, stating 'increased commitments' with the England Sevens squad.

Sands has since been linked with Bury St Edmunds, and 11 former Hadleigh players have moved to the West Suffolk club.

Halls said: “Terry was very influential at the club, and did great things over his time here. He put a lot of his own money into the club, including the recruitment of overseas players.”

But with Sands gone, bringing in overseas players is something that the club want to steer away from.

Halls added: “We are looking to go back to the grassroots of the sport, good old community rugby, and the recruitment of local players is something we are very keen to do.'

“We have approached Suffolk College, who run a rugby team, and have offered our club and coaching facilities in the hope that we can gain some new members to the squad, and our youth teams are doing very well, with many players set to break into senior rugby in a few seasons' time.”

The club is keen to attract not only newcomers to the game, who are most welcome, but also those who are training with other clubs but not getting a game at the weekend, and those who have played rugby in the past, and are looking to come back into the game.

However players are not Hadleigh's only concern this season, as the loss of committee members, and the lack of a club sponsor are also high up on the chairman's list of priorities.

Halls said: “We haven't had a club sponsor since the 04/05 season. The George public house in Hadleigh have very kindly sponsored a new kit, and we have also received private donations from various ex-committee members.

“What we are ideally looking for is a local business, who can work with the club, and hopefully benefit from us, through our taking their name or brand all over the county as we visit rival clubs, and in other ways.”

RFU junior vice-president Brian Williams said of the club: “They will have to work very hard to stay in the leagues. They could have folded at the beginning of the season but decided to fight on. They are doing what they need to do to survive, and have done incredibly well under the circumstances.

“One would like to think that they could, in the long term, and with people like John at the helm, reach the standard of neighbouring clubs such as Ipswich and Colchester.”

If you are interested in playing rugby with Hadleigh RUFC, you are welcome to attend their training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 7pm. For more details visit www.hadleighrufc.com

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