GLOUCESTER star Jonny May believes former club Wootton Bassett’s move to Ballards Ash could help inspire a new generation of rugby players in Wiltshire, writes Andy Warren.
The centre was back at his old stomping ground as Bassett hosted the launch of this season’s LV= Cup between top-flight teams from England and Wales on Monday The club which nurtured him between the ages of five and 16 completed its long-awaited move from Stoneover Lane in the summer and May hopes the switch could benefit the development of young players and encourage others to follow in his footsteps.
“I played for Wootton Bassett from five to 16-years- old, and they were talking about making the big move back then,” he said.
“They have a temporary clubhouse there at the moment, but I have seen the plans and having a big clubhouse here is exactly what they need.
“It will add a lot to the club and it is great to see, and there will be a lot more space for them to work.
“Bassett is a club which thrives in the mini section so, with the bigger pitches and more space, it makes it a lot easier for them to work and it will increase awareness of rugby in the area which could attract kids who haven’t played the game.
“There is Bristol, Bath and Gloucester here, and Exeter and London Welsh too, so the area is surrounded by great teams, and there are plenty of close Premiership sides around to inspire young people.
“There are some great players in the area and if Bassett’s move can help them get into rugby then that will be brilliant.”
The 22-year-old’s performances in the Anglo-Welsh competition last season earned him the breakthrough player of the year award, which also saw awarded £1,000 to give to the club of his choice – naturally Bassett.
“It is great to be able to give something back, however small it is, and I try to come back here to say hello to everyone whenever I can.’’ May has thrived at Kingsholm, but will always remember the role Bassett played in making him into the player he is today.
“Clubs like Wootton Bassett are quite simply the bread and butter of rugby, because rugby is not quite like other sports where there are centre of excellences or academies all over the place,” he said.
“The clubs play a big part in the development from five to 18.
“There are a lot of changes between five and 18-year- olds but you do all your core skills with your club and at 18 is when you are judged.
“You get the opportunity then to go into academies and things like that and there is also county rugby but the main core development happens at clubs like Bassett.
“It takes you into men’s rugby, and that is where you get noticed, so players like me owe a lot to our clubs.
“There are an amazing number of volunteers that help out at clubs to make it happen, and they play a really important role in young players’ development.”
May, plus representatives from English and Welsh clubs, including Bath’s Academy director Danny Grewcock, also held a coaching clinic and signing session with local schools during the day at Bassett.
Gloucester begin their LV= Cup campaign away at Osprey’s tomorrow night.