Home is where the Marsh is - Old Streetonians Rugby Club make Hackney Marshes their home

ONE of East London s most successful rugby clubs finally has a permanent home – just in time to celebrate its 20th birthday after signing a community use agreement with Hackney Council.

Old Streetonians Rugby Club has agreed to become the latest sports club to make the newly-refurbished Hackney Marshes its long term base, putting to an end nearly two decades of wandering across the borough.

Old Streetonians chairman Ian Heptonstall said: “This is fantastic news not just for Old Streetonians but for rugby across East London. We ve always been proud to call Hackney our home and now we have the facilities to match our ambitions. In time this could become the high quality hub for the sport in east of the city. After 20 years it really does feel like a homecoming.”

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture said: “The multi million pound improvements on Hackney Marshes are really taking shape. Hackney Council is delighted to be able to provide Old Streetonians with a long-term home and the people of Hackney with a first-rate rugby facility.”

From September 2011 Old Streetonians will play all their home matches on three new rugby pitches on the marshes and have use of the new Hackney Marshes Centre for changing and post-match entertainment. Four international-standard rugby changing rooms have been created at Hackney Marshes Centre, part funded by £99,500 from the English game s governing body the Rugby Football Union.

The deal to use Hackney Marshes follows the signing of a Community Use Agreement between Hackney Council and Old Streetonians. The agreement gives the club use of pitches and Hackney Marshes Centre, and the club will work towards providing youth rugby from the marshes. The agreement is similar to one signed earlier this year with football club Sporting Hackney FC.

Hackney Marshes is already internationally known as the spiritual home of Sunday league football, with over 70 matches played every week involving dozens of teams in multiple leagues. There are 82 pitches serving not only football, but rugby and cricket, on North and South Marsh and Mabley Green which are available for use by leagues, schools, community groups and residents. Sports facilities include one football show pitch, eight junior football pitches, up to 12 mini pitches, three rugby pitches and seven non-turf cricket pitches.