Rainbow flag to fly above Weetwood Fields as Hunters take on the Ravens
The LGBT+ Pride flag will be flying proudly over a Leeds rugby ground this weekend to mark the first time an inclusive team based in Yorkshire will officially play one from another region.
Kicking off at 2pm on Saturday 18 March, The Leeds Hunters will take on The Newcastle Ravens at their new home on Weetwood playing fields.
Launched in November 2016 as the city’s first LGBT+ Inclusive rugby team, Leeds Hunters RUFC has members who identify as gay, straight and bisexual. Ranging in age from 18 up to 48 and of varying fitness levels, the number of players involved has increased week on week through the club’s recruitment of players through the RFU’s Return to Rugby programme, aimed at encouraging men to get back into the game.
The team was set up with support from Leeds Inclusive Sports working group, which works with representation from all inclusive sports groups in Leeds in response to requests from members of the LGBT+ community.
Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council deputy leader and LGB&T+ champion, said:
“Of the 53 current members of the team, approximately half weren’t previously involved in any fitness activities, with the majority of the remainder not participating in group sports.
“One of the aims of Leeds Health and Wellbeing strategy is to get more people, more physically active, more often. LGBT+ inclusive clubs such as The Leeds Hunters are certainly doing this.”
The team has been supported by the Rugby Football Union community coaches, delivering their ‘Return to Rugby’ course.
Steve Grainger, RFU rugby development director, said:
“We are proud to be supporting Leeds Hunters RUFC. The club has worked extremely hard to recruit new players, the majority of whom have never played rugby, or haven’t played since school. Having grown from zero to 30 members in less than six months I hope they are rightly proud of this achievement. It’s great to see how they have created a strong social bond with an ongoing commitment to recruiting new players to the fold, ensuring the whole community can experience the benefits of playing rugby.”
David Goulding, 22, Hunters team member, said:
“When I moved to Leeds I was hoping to get involved with some level of sport.
“Luckily I heard about Leeds Hunters being set up to be an inclusive environment for anyone wanting to try out rugby union. I remember being made to feel incredibly welcome.
“I’m still possibly the scrawniest on the pitch but I enjoy it so much. Not only am I getting some exercise but I’ve also made a lot of great friends.
“We’ve formed a really openhearted and friendly group of people who are always supporting one another and we’ve built such a great name for ourselves over the last few months. It’s more of a family to me than anything and that’s what keeps me coming back every week.”
For more information on the RFU’s Return to Rugby programme, go to www.returntorugby.com
Notes to Editors:
The team’s first game was covered by Rugby World Magazine
This will be the 4th game The Leeds Hunters has played.
Although Leeds has previously hosted a match between two inclusive teams; Newcastle Ravens vs Nottingham Outlaws around three years ago, this match is the first time a Yorkshire based inclusive team has played against another inclusive team.