THERE has been a lot happening at Leek Rugby Club during the closed season, both on and off the field.
Director of Rugby Neil Edge has welcomed the return from university of key players, and also exfirst team player James Floyd.
Floyd has been out injured for the past those seasons.
The 1st XV open the new season at home to Willenhall in a cup game on Saturday, September 7.
Before then, Edge is hopeful he can secure signings for front-row positions Leek recently competed in the Trentham 10 tournament and only narrowly lost in the final to Newcastle.
“This was a great exercise for several members of all teams at the club,” said Edge.
Leek have a new captain in Gary McDermott, with support from Andy McFadden.
With the support of coaches Ian Gitterns and Chris Mudd, they hope to continue to build and develop on the recent success at the club. Leek have three senior sides who train every Tuesday and Thursday, at St Edwards Park, Cheddleton, between 7pm and 9pm.
The club’s junior section begins the new season this Sunday (10.30am). The age groups range from under sixes to under 17s, all supervised by qualified coaches.
Junior chairman Marcus Midwinter said: “We are a family club and would encourage both girls and boys to visit the club on Sundays.
We would encourage parents to visit and get involved.” Off the field, the club have continued to develop after receiving RFU accreditation.
“This highlights that the club is conducted in a proper and organised manner,” said vice-chairman Mark Hardern.
Leek have been awarded £50,000 from Sport England to improve the drainage area on the first team pitch.
An additional grant has also been received from the RFU for new floodlights on the main pitch. This will allow for improved training and occasional night games. Hardern added: “These are massive boosts to the club to ensure it develops for the benefit of rugby and the community.”
Further work has also begun on the junior pitch to again improve drainage – again with support from the RFU and also from local sponsors.
Through partnership work with the Probation Service, areas around the outfield and clubhouse have also been tidied and painted.
“We are presently finalising a sponsorship deal with a local company which will continue to assist the club moving forward,” revealed Hardern.
Club president Gareth Jones said: “A great deal of work has gone on during the pre-season by many club members.
“This is a community club, where we want to develop skills for all ages and hopefully progress into senior teams.”
LEEK fielded a mixture of players from the club’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams at the Trentham 10s tournament.
The team performed exceptionally well in the group stages only to be beaten 27-7 by Newcastle A in the final.
Group stage results: Leek 39 Eccleshall B 5 Leek 41 Newcastle B 5 Leek 17 Trentham A 20 In the semi-final, Leek narrowly overcame Eccleshall 24-21.
With only two minutes to go, Eccleshall were leading 21-19 but then Leek won a penalty on the 22 for a high tackle.
Edge took a quick tap penalty for Floyd to score an excellent try in the corner.
The final was a hard-fought hard game which took its toll on Leek after a long day playing many games.
Leek struggled with Newcastle’s pace and only managed to score one try through the forwards, with Dan Needham driving over.
Ollie Drew converted.
Director of Rugby Edge said: “This was a great exercise for several members of all teams at the club.“I was happy with the level of our skill and fitness level that we all played, and we scored some great tries.”