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Home > News > Upholland back on North West rugby map
Your News Upholland back on North West rugby map

THERE was a time when first-time travellers to up-and-coming Orrell RFC pulled off the M6 and dutifully followed the signs to the Upholland suburb of Wigan unsure of what to expect.

For many it was a baptism of fire as the Lancastrians claimed another scalp en route to their place among the leading clubs in the country.

Today those memories seem a distant recollection as the once-elevated club seeks to re-tread the path which carried them from relative obscurity to national fame, although once again the Wiganers are beginning from humble surroundings and seeking to build in a totally amateur environment.

The two senior sides at the club currently operate out of John Rigby College, but an important new milestone in the re-development of the club focuses on another educational establishment.

Upholland High School is at the centre of the latest move by Orrell to strengthen their junior section, a process which has been given a serious impetus by Community Rugby Coach Mark Devine.

Thanks largely to his work at the school, Orrell have moved their Mini & Junior Section to the school, where thanks to the coaching activities of CRC Devine, an Under 15 team has been created for the first time in a number of years.

The club had no team at this age-group before they relocated to the school, but now they have 22 Under 15s, with 18 of them coming from Upholland. The club have also picked up around 10 players for various age groups across the club.

The players have transferred to the club due to the impact of Devine and the hard work of Mini & Junior Chairman Keith Roberts and Coach Matthew Grundy in getting this key section up-and-running. They were both recognised in the Volunteer of the Year Award category in this year’s Wigan Sports Awards.

The opening game at Upholland was played in mid-September after a new school partnership had been agreed and the introduction of rugby union back to the school is seen as a major step forward for the game in this rugby hotbed.

“"With the fantastic team that we have around us and the help Mark is giving us in the schools we are once again becoming a part of the local community and we are seeing people walking out just to watch the young players on a Sunday morning.” says Roberts.

“The school partnership is ideal for the future of the club as we are also coaching in the feeder schools to Upholland High School.”

Says Greater Manchester Rugby Development Officer Andrew Soutar: “Mark has been doing great work with Keith’s help and the club is moving forward. This is reflected in the fact that the club has now 80 players in the M&J section and looking to reach the 100 mark by the end of the season.”

It’s all a far cry from the national car and caravan raffles that characterised the resourcefulness of the Orrell pioneers all those years ago, but it’s another step forward which puts Upholland back on the rugby map.

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