RUGBY clubs in Cumbria hit the ground running thanks to the NatWest RugbyForce Weekend 2020 and the RFU.

Aspatria RUFC and Carlisle RFC carried out improvements and repairs to the facilities last weekend in anticipation for the resumption of the sport at grassroots level. Teams were amongst 800 clubs across the UK that took part in the initiative, with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently giving the green light for clubs to start limited and restricted contact rugby training with inter-club non-contact fixtures permitted. NatWest RugbyForce is a nationwide programme developed with the RFU which provides an opportunity for rugby clubs to welcome team members and volunteers back to help make valuable improvements to their clubs.

NatWest has awarded grants ranging from £500 to £3000 to clubs to help renovate facilities and remain sustainable for longer during the coronavirus pandemic which has dealt a considerable blow to grassroots sports teams. With the programme now able to return safely, NatWest is offering more support for the rugby community than ever before with a record number of clubs getting involved in the programme this year. Works at Aspatria's Bower Park ground included painting pitch sticks, cleaning the clubhouse interior and changing rooms and a litter pick.

Ex-England player and RugbyForce ambassador James Haskell added: “Although this weekend is slightly different to previous NatWest RugbyForce Weekends, it's actually more important than ever that this event takes place.

“I love seeing all the volunteers being involved and getting their clubs ready for the return to rugby.”