Bridlington RUFC is hoping to build up its junior section even further this year after recruiting dozens of new youngsters over the past 12 months.
The club made huge strides in promoting the sport in local schools in 2014 and established teams at under 17 and under 14 level.
Before Christmas, more than 700 youngsters aged between 12 and 16 compete in an East Yorkshire inter-schools event, while Bridlington and Headlands Schools teams played on the club’s first team pitch, which has not happened for several years.
Jon Rowbottom, chairman of the junior section at the rugby club, said: “The support from the sports teachers at Bridlington and Headlands School has been absolutely tremendous.
“They have encouraged the young people to enjoy our facilities and play under floodlights, an experience in itself.
“This enthusiasm coupled with excellent coaching has assisted the club to build the junior section, something we cannot thank the schools enough for.”
Since employing Jack Bell as its youth development officer, the club has been able to carry out regular weekly coaching at most local schools free of charge and run after-schools clubs at Headlands and Bridlington School. There are also plans for girls rugby sessions.
The knock-on effect has been that 60 new players have signed on for Bridlington, and the under 17s team has been started up again and has already won its first game in Yorkshire Junior Colts League Division Four East.
Director of rugby Rich Girking is hoping senior sides will start to reap the benefits in future years.
“The junior section had been neglected in the past because people just assumed it would run itself.
“There was half a team here and half a team there, and those players were leaving because they weren’t getting games. It was a sorry state, as bad a state as I could remember it.
“Part of the reason I got involved again last season was because of the plans for the junior section.
“People have worked hard over the last 12 months to push the minis and juniors. We have got into schools, which isn’t as straightforward as you would think, because there is a lot of red tape involved.
“We have employed a youth development officer, which is something the club has needed for a lot of years, and has brought us into the 21st century, thanks to our sponsor Dave Jackson at Hudson Contract Services, who has subsidised the role.
“We need to get our town playing rugby and a good junior section will bring in parents and volunteers, so it is fantastic to see the club pushing forward with this.”