Balls donated to rugby club in drive for grass roots sports partnership

Left to right, Gareth Morris from Suffolk New College, student and Woodbridge Colts player Damon Oli

Left to right, Gareth Morris from Suffolk New College, student and Woodbridge Colts player Damon Oliver, and Tom Johnson, Woodbridge Rugby Club chairman. Picture: JOHN NICE - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk college is hoping to convert its donation of new rugby balls into a partnership with Woodbridge Rugby Club.

Representatives from Suffolk New College met with the club this week to hand more than 35 new balls as a gesture to mark its new union.

Gareth Morris is a sports lecturer at the college who organised the first meeting, he said: “Grassroots sport is having a tough time at the minute so the more people can help out local clubs, the better.

“We want to work with Woodbridge as much as possible and this small donation seemed a fitting way to start things off.”

Mr Morris teaches rugby at the club on the weekends and began discussions with sponsorship director Paul Simpson and chairman Tim Johnson.

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They agreed to a union and long term plans are currently being considered for opportunities such as work experience for college students and mutually beneficial sports analysis.

Damon Oliver attends Suffolk New College and also plays for the Colts team at Woodbridge.

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He said: “Whether it’s rugby, football, cricket or tennis, you can’t play without balls. Therefore, I think this donation is great.

“In addition to the donation, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some coaching sessions at Woodbridge as part of a work experience module on my course.”

The student hopes to coach rugby when he finishes higher education and said the partnership has provided great opportunities for his career development.

Back in 2011, Suffolk Rural campus - formerly Otley College - narrowly missed out on a world record for creating the longest ever scrum, so plans to create fun community events together will also be potentially lined up in the future.

Mr Johnson added: “We are a community club and we are keen to work with as many partners as we can to help drive rugby forward at our club and in the region.

“Therefore, the opportunity to work with Suffolk New College is fantastic – and we look forward to creating a long-term relationship with them.”

The club is also fundraising to buy the Baptist Church and buildings next door to their grounds, in the hope of using the extra space for indoor training and wheelchair rugby.

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