Hackney have a strong succession plan in place as Bulls youth section goes from strength to strength
- Credit: Archant
Hackney’s first team are enjoying a blistering start to the new season, having won all of their opening five fixtures in London Division Three North West – and there is a strong succession plan in place as the club continues to develop young talent.
Based at Spring Hill, the youth section is going from strength to strength, and a new community programme launched alongside the RFU means the club is working with five schools in the borough.
Anthony Joseph, who captains the fourth XV and helps with the day-to-day running of the affairs at Hackney, told the Gazette: “We’re hoping to engage with more people. The message is ‘the door is open, it’s your club’.
“We’d like to reach out to more schools, put on more workshops to get more kids into rugby and get them to join us.
“The message we want to portray is that we are a grass-roots, all-inclusive sports club that teaches the core values of rugby.
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“We have three men’s teams all playing competitive rugby as well as a fourth team that looks to integrate our colts into the adult game.
“We’re looking to facilitate a school league competition at Spring Hill and we’re recruiting very heavily in girls’ rugby at the moment to [get players to] join our ladies side. I think there’s a bright future for Hackney and for rugby in the East End.”
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Joseph, 54, who lives in Osbaldeston Road, has been a Hackney resident for 30 years but only got into rugby himself when his son turned to the sport soon after England won the World Cup in 2003.
The Hackney Bulls junior club was formed the following year, before merging with the long-established Hackney RFC in 2014.
They recently received the Middlesex award for community engagement and inclusion, adding to their burgeoning status at amateur level.
Joseph added: “At every amateur club there’s always a few doing lots, and it can be exhausting. But on Sunday mornings when you go down to Spring Hill and see 150 kids running around having fun, playing with other boroughs in a respectful way, you can’t really beat it.
“The same goes at competitive level – win, lose or indifferent, seeing players shaking each other’s hands at the end of games is all part of the club’s ethos.
“We very much have an open-door policy. You don’t have to have any experience whatsoever, you can just turn up at a training session and see what we’re all about. We don’t have anywhere to host our opposition since the clubhouse burnt down 17 years ago, but we’re a social club.
“The pub at the top of the road is now a religious school so we have been squeezed for community space, but that didn’t stop the first and second teams enjoying a night of pub golf recently! We’re one big family.”
Hackney RFC welcome adults of all abilities to training sessions every Wednesday at 7.30pm at Mabley Green, near Homerton Road, while the Hackney Bulls host children’s sessions from 9.30am on Sundays at Spring Hill Sports Ground. Visit www.hackneybulls.co.uk