18/02/22 | General

A Warm Welcome to the Hoppers

Author: Neil Kelly

Firstly, it is with huge sadness that we have seen the loss our former President, Lionel Cockayne, this week. Our thoughts are very much with Mary, Simon, Debs and all his family at this very sad time. Lionel maintained his interest and enthusiasm for Lymm to the end; receiving text updates of match scores and constantly asking about team selections even when he himself was no longer able to get to Beechwood to watch. He was a universally popular and respected member of our Club who will be sorely missed.  There will be a minute’s silence before today’s game in his memory.

However, this does not diminish the warmth of our welcome to our visitors from Lancashire, the famous Hoppers, who travel to Saturdays game having already secured the away game’s victory earlier in the season with a thumping 66 – 14 win. Last week Hoppers secured a tight victory over third placed Blackburn to move into second place and I suspect secure their promotion spot. Lymm had a difficult fixture away to league leaders Otley and must now follow that up with another tough game against the second placed side.  Let’s hope that our recent run of form and determination returns and we can produce some of our best attacking rugby and defensive excellence.

As I write today’s programme notes I am actually in the USA preparing to watch the ‘Super Bowl’, an event that appears to grab the entire country. Whilst not a particular fan of the game it is interesting to see how the draft system produces a continually competitive league that seems to reinvigorate each new season and create significant marketing opportunities. However, the system depends on talent being spotted very early and pulled from the grass roots level to be put into an educational scholarship system designed to develop footballing prowess.  That goes on to create an elite college system to collect the best talent for the NFL. The system works for the elite players but regrettably it seems to create a void for the ‘average kids’ seeking the fun element of playing park football. In some respects, are we are starting to see a similar approach in Rugby, with academy players having scholarships to elite rugby playing schools and tacit links starting to be formed between Universities and clubs? My firm belief is that the strength of any game is driven by its grass roots and the strength of any club is only as good as the depth and age range it can draw from.

Once again, our team today comes largely from home grown talent with others integrated through an inclusive and competitive culture which runs through the Club at all levels and for all abilities. These are not factors that are unique to us but they are things that we are very proud of and value extremely highly. The efforts of the coaches and volunteers within the M&J section do not always take centre stage but thankfully their influence is evident in the senior teams every Saturday.  Long may it continue!

Neil Kelly

President, Lymm RFC


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