Lucky 13 for Cheltenham Old Pats
When the Cheltenham Old Patesians rugby league team take the field in the summer of 2013 the club will establish a world first. Never in the history of either code of rugby has the same club owned both disciplines of the same sport.
This is a significant step for the club, known affectionately as Old Pats, in a period when the number 13 has much significance. The club was founded in 1913 and part of the centenary celebrations will be the formation of a rugby league team playing the first 13 aside game in Old Pats colours in 2013. Moreover 2013 is the year of the next rugby league World Cup that will be hosted in England and Wales.
As the driving force of the sport in Gloucestershire, Lionel Hurst, explains, “It is a unique state of affairs that is without precedent in the world of rugby that the same club should play both 13 and 15 aside codes under the same name, kit, badge ethos and ownership. It has been a complete privilege to deal with the Old Pats. They are very professional and visionary in their outlook. I know that many followers of rugby league are keen to assist the club in its rugby union ambitions and I have no doubt that this desire is reciprocated.”
In addition, the new professional rugby league side in the area, the University of Gloucestershire All Golds, has chosen the Old Pats as its official feeder club for Cheltenham as, Director of Sport and All Golds Chairman, Dr Andrew Pitchford explains:
"After careful review and discussion we are very pleased to announce Cheltenham Old Patesians as our chosen feeder club for the Cheltenham area. This decision was firmly based on the Old Pats openness and willingness to embrace rugby league as an integral part of their thriving club."
Old Pats rugby league, playing in the traditional Old Pats colours and sharing the same ethos, will form an integral part of the Old Patesians family based at Everest Road in Cheltenham, a ground which has hosted the England rugby league national side in the past. The rugby league team will work as one with the rugby union team to extend the part the club plays in the development of rugby within the local community offering an increased opportunity for participation in sport.
Michael Angell, Chairman of Old Patesians Rugby club, is delighted with the ground breaking decision:
"We are really excited and committed to the journey ahead and we are truly confident that the playing of both codes in one single club will provide significant social and playing benefits to everyone involved. It is fantastic news that the All Golds have chosen the Old Pats as their feeder club based here in Cheltenham. It cements the part they play in the local community and will enable Old Pats to ensure yet more players engage in and learn from rugby with league and union working together to mutual advantage."
To complete a remarkable tripartite partnership World Club and Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos, who are twinned with the All Golds, are fully supportive of the history making plans as Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington confirms:
"What a great attitude from Old Patesians and one which will bear fruit for both codes. This is another ground breaking development in Gloucestershire. The Leeds Rhinos will be very supportive. Well done to everyone concerned for working together on this unique project."
In conclusion Dr Pitchford is eager to stress that: "The Old Pats will benefit from the support and guidance of the All Golds and Leeds Rhinos in the development of outstanding rugby players of both codes. A number of coaches from within the Old Pats organisation and the wider community have already agreed to become involved in this exciting venture."
The new exciting competition the team will play in will be announced shortly. This initiative offers a fresh opportunity for players to become engaged in rugby through the spring and summer months. Further information can be obtained by contacting Matthew Cape at the Old Pats - firstname.lastname@example.org
As Matthew explains: "To underpin the success of the venture it is vital to have the support of the business community and volunteers. Therefore I would be very pleased to hear from those interested."