‘Just what the game is about’

Bill Beaumont presents a Legacy Gold Standard award to Lester Wilmington, chairman of Sidmouth Rugby

Bill Beaumont presents a Legacy Gold Standard award to Lester Wilmington, chairman of Sidmouth Rugby Club. Ref shs 0765-40-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Work at grass-roots level has scored Sidmouth Rugby Club a national gold award and recognition from one of the sport’s legends.

Former England captain Bill Beaumont CBE was full of praise when he officially opened the newly refurbished clubhouse on Wednesday - describing it as a true community effort which is ‘just what the game is about’.

The club received a £10,000 funding boost as part of a ‘Lead Up and Legacy’ project to encourage more people to get into the sport during the Rugby World Cup year.

This went towards a complete renovation of the Blackmore Field facilities in Heydons Lane.

Rugby Football Union (RFU) bosses behind the scheme were so impressed with the ‘amazing transformation’ in Sidmouth, they awarded the club one of just five gold awards in the country.

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Chairman of Sidmouth Rugby Club Lester Willmington said: “The club is delighted to be recognised as one of the more progressive in the country.

“To be presented by Bill Beaumont is another feather in our cap. We seem to be blessed with getting some of the RFU down to see what we are doing as a grass-roots club.

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“The RFU gave us £10,000 for the work, which is good for the local economy, but also good of them to invest in grass-roots rugby.

“We are absolutely delighted to be beneficiaries, but I also think we are making good use of the money and showing what can be achieved as a grass-roots club.

“We are trying to lay the foundations for the future now to make sure rugby is a big part of Sidmouth’s community.”

RFU chairman Bill – a former team captain on Question of Sport – said: “The club is part of the community and that is what rugby is all about. Rugby is a community game and no matter what background you are from, you are accepted as part of the club.”

He added that the facilities have undergone an ‘amazing transformation’.

The Blackmore clubhouse and pitch has been the ‘home of rugby’ in Sidmouth since 1884 and there are now 250 young people playing for the club.

Club secretary Terry O’Brien said that two years of work have also gone into improving the pitches at Sidford and the new grounds will be put to use by junior teams for the first time on Sunday.

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