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£800,000 for Bishop's Stortford rugby club to convert plans into reality for 2021

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Bishop's Stortford rugby club held its first ever minis floodlight festival. (7957980)
Bishop's Stortford rugby club held its first ever minis floodlight festival. (7957980)

Bishop’ Stortford Rugby Football Club faces an £800,000 bill to transform its facilities to full fitness.

Spokesman Perry Oliver told the town council of the club’s aspirations for its ground at Silver Leys – with a particular focus on boosting the sport for women, girls and boys.

He said the club, which next year celebrates its centenary, had opted to become a registered charity to ensure it remained firmly embedded in the grass-roots game and was proud of providing facilities for other groups, such as Pilates, WeightWatchers and yoga classes plus mother and toddler sessions, as well as taking part in the town’s carnival and hosting an annual fireworks display.

Mr Oliver said that rugby’s ethos of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship applied to all of the club’s work and not just its players’ code of conduct.

The club currently has more than 1,900 members aged between five and 90. Of these, 22% are female. There are 700 juniors aged five to 18, of whom just 37 are girls. The registered adult players include 35 women.

Mr Oliver said: “We did not foresee the size of the membership we have. We have outgrown that club that we have got, particularly the changing facilities. There aren’t enough changing facilities, and those we have are too small and quite frankly they’re worn out.”

The club’s success – climbing the ranks to compete in National League 1, the third tier of the English rugby pyramid – has had an impact. Visiting teams now bring almost as many support staff as players, and all have to be accommodated.

Improvements, planned for 2021, will result in eight state-of-the-art changing rooms with en-suite facilities so both sexes and all ages can be accommodated. One difficulty the club faces is connecting robust utilities to the site, which is currently served by domestic supplies. Each will cost around £60,000.

The extension will be built on land owned by the club and it has secured an extension of its lease for the rest of its site. Extra land, off Dane O’Coys, has been secured for more parking to ease congestion.

The club expects to raise around half of the £800,000 estimated cost of development, with support from grants, fundraising and an interest-free loan from the RFU.

Councillors invited the club to return when its financial requirements have been firmed up to talk further about potential help.

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