England legend Leonard to support Wortley grant

Guest of honour: Jason Leonard is to pay a special visit to Wortley Rugby Club
Guest of honour: Jason Leonard is to pay a special visit to Wortley Rugby Club
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IT must be one of the most unusual training venues of any club in any sport anywhere not just in Sheffield.

It’s a disused tunnel but it’s where the keen guys from Wortley Rugby Club would spend a winter evening honing their finely tuned bodies before going off to have a well-earned pint or two later.

The tunnel, which formed part of the Trans-Pennine trail, is floodlit hence the reason why they could be outdoors on those dark nights.

But there is a different kind of light at the end of that particular tunnel for this small but expanding club.

And it is one of the reasons why their members - over a 100 now of all ages - are getting pretty thrilled at the prospect of the most exciting weekend in the club’s admittedly young history.

They will have a genuine rugby legend turning up at their humble abode in England 2003 World Cup winner Jason Leonard, who not only survived but also prospered in over 100 internationals, doing so in the dark, unchartered depths of the scrum against some of the most fearsome players in the game.

Jason, along with England international Tom Palmer and the Rugby Football Union President Martyn Thomas - will be blessing Wortley with their presence on Sunday to climax a pivotal two days for the club.

It all comes about because the club, one of just a handful from 414 applicants, have been chosen for the RBS Rugbyforce scheme which aims to help clubs.

They get a grant of £5,000 to improve their facilities and, helped by Rugbyforce volunteers, club members and friends, set about two days of work, starting tomorrow.

The club say the money will make “a massive difference” to them and there are all sorts of improvements planned including electricity to the changing rooms, improved car park entrance and a new changing room floor.

They are also aiming to get floodlights for winter training which means they can pack it in down at the tunnel although it did have one advantage over wherever they will train in the future - it was covered!

After fielding a couple of questions from a Wednesdayite, I had a couple for him.

Firstly, when are next season’s fixtures out? “Dunno,” he said. “But it’s soon.”

It is, it’s next Friday, June 17th and the first thing him, his mates and all Blades fans will do is look for the two dates when they meet.

So, the other question is... how many times could the Blades and the Owls play each other next season?

He didn’t waste much time, did a brief calculation and came up with five.

Fair enough but it is possible, if highly improbable, that they could meet NINE times.

Twice in the league, once in the Carling Cup and twice (including a replay) in the FA Cup makes up his five.

Then, if both got through in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy they could meet in the Northern Area Final which is over two legs.

Then there could still be the little matter of two legs in the semi-final of the Play-offs.