NORTH East Worcestershire Ravens and Kings Norton Rugby Club are celebrating after being selected to play at Twickenham.
The historic news arrived last week that the joint partnership between NEW Ravens RL and Kings Norton RFC to deliver the RFU’s O2 Touch programme at Bournville College through the winter has been so successful that they have qualified as one of nine clubs across England to compete at a touch tournament on the hallowed turf of Twickenham.
Sunday, April 12 will be the day the Kings Norton Ravens O2 touch team will grace the field at the home of English rugby union, just eight months after starting the project with just four people.
The initiative, which is aimed at increasing participation of men and women of all ages playing the non-contact version of the game, has grown from strength to strength, attracting existing, retired and complete novices to the Wednesday night sessions at Bournville College sports hall.
Ravens took on the project as a development of their partnership with Kings and as winter training for their rugby league summer season.
Ravens wanted to keep players together over the winter and this has also helped Kings Norton by recruiting new members to the wider club.
Kings have been thrilled with the progress the Kings Norton Ravens touch centre has made after being in the top three centres in the Midlands five times in eight months and number one twice.
It is these impressive figures based on recruitment and retention of players which has qualified the team for the prestigious tournament.
It will be a club first for both Ravens and Kings when they step foot on the pitch as neither club has ever played at RFU HQ before. The most amazing fact is that NEW Ravens RL will be only the fifth rugby league club ever to have played at Twickenham.
Jason Spafford, Director of Rugby for Ravens and O2 touch operator, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the success of O2 Touch. This tournament is a fitting recognition of a great group of people who have made it a success.
“I know Ravens and Kings are proud to have made it, but for Ravens players to be in the company of clubs such as Wigan, St Helens, Bradford and Huddersfield as the only clubs to play in the English rugby union home stadium is something we had never imagined.”
Ravens and Kings are planning to take as many supporters as possible to be part of this great day, but if you want to try O2 Touch for yourself, sessions run on Wednesdays between 7.30-9pm at Bournville College. Your first session is free.
Ravens have just started pre-season field training at Hopwood Park, Ash Lane, Hopwood, and will also be hosting their annual Challenge Mug tournament on Sunday at 1pm at Hopwood Park.