Lions legend brings World Cup to Hackney Bulls

Hackney Bulls youngsters with Brian O'Driscoll and the Rugby World Cup at the Petchey Academy, Shack

Hackney Bulls youngsters with Brian O'Driscoll and the Rugby World Cup at the Petchey Academy, Shacklewell Lane. Pic: Action Images /John Marsh . - Credit: Action Images

Hackney youngsters were given an early glimpse of the World Cup when Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll brought the famous trophy to the Petchey Academy.

The former British and Irish Lions captain was in east London to help launch a programme midweek coaching sessions at the Academy in Shacklewell Lane, which is home to the Hackney Bulls and Belles.

And members of the club’s various age groups took the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the iconic Webb Ellis Trophy, which is currently touring the country ahead of the World Cup later this year.

O’Driscoll, who is Ireland’s record try-scorer and the Rugby World Cup 2015 ambassador for sponsors Coca-Cola, was delighted to be a part of the inaugural coaching session.

He said: “East London is not an area of the country that is synonymous with rugby. This is an opportunity to bring the game to a wider audience.

“As a former professional sportsman, I’m a passionate believer in the importance of leading an active, healthy lifestyle and understanding the benefits of physical activity.”

The former Leinster outside centre lauded the work of the Bulls in co-ordinating regular open training sessions and encouraging more people within the community to reap the benefits of rugby and physical exercise.

Most Read

He teamed up with compatriot Kerrie Ann Craddock – and fellow female players Sonia Green and Abi Chamberlain – to sprinkle some wisdom upon 80 academy members aged 12-17, in a 90-minute session on Petchey’s artificial pitch.

The Bulls, who play their home games at Springhill Sports Ground, have over 200 young people playing in every age group from Under-sixes to Under-18s.

Bulls press officer John Corbett is hopeful that numbers at the new sessions will reflect the burgeoning popularity of the women’s game.

“We’re confident that after the midweek training sessions kick in every Tuesday in January, we’ll see a surge in female participants,” Corbett said. “Interest has swollen since the England women’s team won the Rugby World Cup.

“We’re aiming to get two teams at every age group, and having enjoyed success with various schools’ programmes in the past, some of their players now turn out for Middlesex.

“We believe our players have a real chance to progress to the pinnacle of the amateur game and beyond.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter