Wasps connections benefit Old Coventrians and Old Leamingtonians
The third anniversary of Wasps’ arrival in Coventry passed last month.
During this time, the on-field progress has been evident to all, thanks to consecutive appearances in the Aviva Premiership play-offs and the last eight of the European Champions Cup.
A growing fan base is also testament to the entertainment provided by Dai Young’s side, who have only lost twice at the Ricoh Arena in the last two years.
What is perhaps less apparent, is the club’s ever-growing involvement with the Coventry and Warwickshire rugby community.
Although the club’s historic roots lie in the South East, a growing number of off-field staff, plus Academy prospects Jacob Umaga and TJ Harris, are now Midlanders.
Community Manager Ian Isham and his team are at the heart of the club’s integration into the local rugby scene, and he says their efforts have already reached substantial numbers.
“We work with over 60 rugby clubs in the local area and engage with over 60,000 people per year,” he said. This includes a number of different programmes for rugby clubs, schools and wider community groups.
“We have also just launched our next round of Move Like a Pro, which is aimed at getting males aged 30-55 to be more active., so it’s not just about the youngsters.”
In addition, a number of local clubs have got involved at the Ricoh Arena through club takeover days, and as a result have generated funds through Wasps’ community cashback scheme.
Old Leamingtonians will receive over £1,000 at the end of the season from tickets purchased by 540 of their members who travelled from the Crofts to last weekend’s Aviva Premiership clash with Saracens.
And under 13 coach Tim Perkins said his club is already seeing the benefits of having high-profile Aviva Premiership rugby in Warwickshire.
“Having Wasps on our doorstep has encouraged more young children to play since they now have more awareness of rugby as a sport,” he said.
“We did the takeover for the Wasps vs Leicester play-off semi-final last year and it was a fantastic day. I think the number of Wasps fans at Old Leams trebled that day - it’s a very positive thing for our club.
“The money from the cashback scheme has also helped us enhance our facilities and support other projects.
The OL’s juniors were joined on the pitch pre-match by youngsters from Old Coventrians to participate in a flag wave and shirt shake before forming a guard of honour for the players.
They were part of a 200-strong contingent from the Tile Hill Lane club which has regularly participated in the club takeover day in recent seasons, and according to junior section secretary Charlotte Burns, put funds raised to good use.
“This year’s cash will go towards revamping our changing rooms as well as our kitchen, bar area and dancefloor in our function room,” she said.
“Some of the cash will also go towards our volunteers’ night in February, which we hold for those who offer their time to help us out all year round.”