A World Cup winning rugby player is set to visit Hartlepool at the weekend as part of a national programme to promote the sport.
Rugby World Cup winner and England legend Neil Back is part of The Rugby Force and is set to offer coaching support and advice to Hartlepool RFC at their NatWest RugbyForce weekend celebration.
Now in its fifth year, the community initiative run in partnership between NatWest and England Rugby aims to help clubs up and down the country attract new members and to become stronger and more sustainable.
Stewart Hind, chairman of mini and junior rugby at the club, said: “We are very excited to welcome Neil to Mayfield Park.
“It is a major coup for the club to have such a legend of the game not only spending the afternoon with us, but also passing on his invaluable expertise gained from playing at the highest level for the Lions, England and Leicester and providing a master class of rugby tips to our coaches, senior and junior players.”
Throughout the year clubs from across the country have been applying for the chance to see Neil join their NatWest RugbyForce celebrations, in addition to receiving benefits such as grant funding, club workshops and pitch maintenance sessions.
Selected due to the club’s community focus and forward-thinking, Hartlepool RFC will receive a grant of £500 along with the opportunity to work with Neil.
Neil, the former Nottingham and Leicester Tigers player, will offer his specific knowledge and expertise in the game with a particular focus on senior rugby, enabling Hartlepool RFC to develop their senior squad.
To celebrate the annual event, Hartlepool RFC are encouraging club members and volunteers from the local community to come together.
The club plans to develop their senior game as well as develop the learnings of existing coaches.
During his international career, he played in three World Cups and was an integral part of the 2003 World Cup winning side.
He also went on three British and Irish Lions Tours, and was in the winning team in South Africa in 1997.
Neil won 66 caps for England, captaining them to victory four times, scored 16 tries and 1 drop goal (the only England forward to do so in a Test Match in the history of the game).
He played as an openside flanker. He is married to Alison who together have a daughter, Olivia who joined him on the winning podium in 2003 and a son, Finley.
Retirement from playing allowed him to concentrate on his future, seeing him continue his role as assistant coach at Leicester Tigers while gaining all of the RFU Coaching Awards and now has over a decade of coaching experience.