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Home > News > Josh Lewsey backs Millwall RFC
Your News Josh Lewsey backs Millwall RFC

ENGLAND rugby legend Josh Lewsey has pledged his support for Millwall Rugby Club and called for all age groups to be allowed to play on Millwall Park.

The World Cup winning Wasps player dropped in on Sunday (January 18) to take a coaching session and warm up with the Isle of Dogs club’s junior players before giving a speech about bringing rugby into the community.

Despite being the only rugby club in the whole of Tower Hamlets, the men’s and women’s teams currently have to travel several miles and outside the borough to play their home matches at Victoria Park and Hackney Marshes – even though there is perfectly good pitch available just yards from the club’s base.

Speaking after the morning’s session on Millwall Park, Josh said: “I would be delighted to see these facilities made available for all ages to use within the local area. Millwall RFC’s enthusiasm and desire is what makes rugby clubs a core part of their community.

“From the mums and dads serving food and working behind the bar to the volunteer coaches, they all help instil discipline, respect, teamwork and a sense of belonging that make rugby such a special sport.”

Millwall has a successful clubhouse in two of the railway arches on Millwall Park and its flourishing youth sides now play their home matches on the park, even though they are denied use of the park changing rooms.

Club leaders are now calling on the bosses at Tower Hamlets Council to grant permission for all age groups to be allowed full use of Millwall Park so that the club can have one coherent base and become a true part of the community.

Millwall’s Club Captain James Eason said: “I am puzzled as to why we can’t play adult rugby on Millwall Park. Some people wrongly think rugby would cut up the grass but it hasn’t happened at the other pitches we’ve used. In more than two years of being used by the club's youth section, often with two games in a day, there has been no damage at all.

“If we were able to play here we are sure there would be a much larger take up of rugby locally and in Tower Hamlets as a whole because we would have a much more visible presence in the borough.

“This would give many more local people the chance to get fit and enjoy playing this wonderful sport.”

That Millwall’s matches are currently played some miles away means it is difficult for the club to offer visiting teams and officials hospitality after matches and impossible for the junior players to learn by watching the adult teams play. For the women’s side it is doubly frustrating because they have to travel to yet another ground to use changing facilities, as Victoria Park has no facilities for women.

After inspecting the turf at Millwall Park, Josh Lewsey posed for a team photo with the Under 13s who were playing their first ever game of rugby against Burnham. He performed the coin toss and gave the lads a pre-match pep talk, telling them not to be scared and to try their best, regardless of the score or opposition.

After watching the game he coached the Millwall Under 9s, who are mostly from the Josh Lewsey Rugby Academy, taking them through their paces with a training session and a match that finished with him being tackled to the ground by 11 youngsters.

Josh signed countless autographs for children and parents alike and was also introduced to Gary Mclaughlin, Sarah Edmead, John Edwards and Chris Attwood - the coaches and managers responsible for making the academy a great success.

After a team photo with Scott Vinnicombe's Under 15s side he was back in the Millwall clubhouse for a final presentation where he was awarded with a club tie and Millwall's highest accolade - Honorary Life Membership.

In turn he gave an encouraging speech about what rugby clubs are about and told Millwall to never lose enthusiasm. He also thanked all the hard working volunteers of the club.

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