Fylde quids in with new Hoppers pitch

Eddie Jones gets a big cheer from the youngstersEddie Jones gets a big cheer from the youngsters
Eddie Jones gets a big cheer from the youngsters
Fylde RFC have moved smartly to grab the biggest bargain in rugby's version of the January sale.

They were quick on the uptake to hire the new all-weather pitch at Preston Grasshoppers’ Lightfoot Green ground - for the princely sum of £1!

Fylde are feeling quids in after taking advantage of the limited time offer to hire the facilities for training.

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And England rugby union coach Eddie Jones has given a huge vote of confidence in the new Hoppers’ floodlit pitch.

Forty-eight hours after arriving back from Argentina to look at facilities and stadia for England’s forthcoming tour there, Jones was at Lightfoot Green to over see a training session featuring some talented teenagers from Garstang, Fleetwood and the host club.

There was a big contingent on the terraces at the ground to give Jones the warmest of Lancashire welcomes and he was given a guard of honour as he took to the field.

And certainly the youngsters who thronged to the ground for the milestone occasion were thrilled to see him.

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They clamoured for his autograph at pitch-side - some wanted him to sign their boots, while one boy who had his hand signed exclaimed: “I’m not going to wash now!”

Jones hailed the new pitch as being ‘fantastic’ and stressed the importance of grass-roots clubs like Preston, who in the past have produced internationals such as Wade Dooley, Will Greenwood, Paul Grayson and Steve Borthwick, who is now a key member of his England back-room team.

Jones, due to name his Six National squad on Friday, said: “Preston Grasshoppers is a great old club.

“I have had a lot of involvement with Steve Borthwick and he has told me a lot about the club - all his childhood rugby was here and it is great testament to the club how well he has done.

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“He is a fantastic rugby man, hard, honest, hard-working and sincere and it’s nice to see him being rewarded with a coaching job with the Lions. It must feel very special for Preston as a club.”

Asked if he had been impressed by some of the teenagers who took part in a full-scale training session under his eagle eye, Aussie Jones said: “There were a few boys with a bit of talent.

“They like running into people!

“Maybe they could pass the ball a little bit more, but a pitch like this is going to help in that regard.

“They will want to move the ball more because the pitch is fast.

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“You walk off the pitch and it is is very muddy. Before now they used to train in mud, but now they won’t have to run into people because they will have space to run into.”

The new pitch could get its first test on Saturday when Hoppers’ play Scunthorpe as they continue their battle to escape from the bottom of National League Two North, but that is to be confirmed and it could be delayed for a further week,