Rugby club wins a pitch for larger playing space
A RUGBY club is hoping to kick on after winning a political scrum for extra land and leftover development cash.
Swindon Rugby Club have been handed a 45-year lease for six acres of the former Bath University campus, on the former Oakfield School site off Marlowe Avenue, adjacent to their grounds.
The team has also gained £10,000 in section 106 money remaining from the development of houses in Covingham.
The move, granted by Swindon Council on Wednesday following lobbying from councillors Nick Martin and John Haines, will see the South West Division club almost double the current size of the space at their site, off Greenbridge Road.
Club chairman Stuart Cock said he hoped the rugby union side, which also runs junior sides from under 13s up, would be able to install another pitch and absorb any boost in interest resulting from the upcoming 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“It is great news for us and it means many things,” he said.
“We have expanded a lot recently as a club and one of the problems is we have so many players that we are overusing the pitches we have. It’s a nice problem to have but we are stressing the pitches.
“Now we will be able to create an extra playing surface and offer the best quality playing conditions not only for our members but also expand to American Football and other local sports clubs.
“The old Oakfield site is a bit like the Serengeti at the moment as no-one has cared for it in around 15 years, but we are hoping to get something ready for September. It is ambitious, but why not be ambitious?
“A grant opportunity from Sport England exists for us to bring this playing surface back to the required standard and we believe we would have a strong application.
“There is a strategic and local need, we will be able to expand our facilities to the wider community and it will be sustainable.
“The World Cup is critical as the Rugby Football Union have a lead up and legacy campaign – the idea is to build the infrastructure now so we are in a position to soak up the additional interest it generates in 2015.”
Coun Nick Martin said: “After some arm wrestling and a push for support of Swindon Rugby Club we managed to score the 45-year lease and the section 106 money for the restoration of the field.
“It does not cost us anything but it could do some real good for sport and recreation in the area.”