Don McDermott

The partnership between Royal Holloway University rugby club and the Egham Hollowegians has continued to grow to the mutual benefit of both sides.

The local club has had ties with the university ever since 2005, when Egham Rugby Club and the Old Hollowegians Rugby Club combined, forming a team made up of local residents and university alumni.

But the partnership has grown to include current Royal Holloway students following the introduction of the Game Finder initiative, which Royal Holloway joined two seasons ago.

Vice Chair of Senior Rugby for Egham Hollowegians Jack Smale said: “The Game Finder initiative is designed to find students games of rugby at the weekend in local rugby clubs. Each university has volunteers who are responsible for liaising between their teams and local clubs, and at Royal Holloway this role is fulfilled by Tom Puijk and Ed Hutchinson.”

The two clubs have pooled resources to provide better facilities and opportunities for everyone involved.

Smale explained: “Egham Hollowegians has benefited from an enhanced relationship with Royal Holloway, utilising the College's 3G pitch on Tuesday evenings, and sharing members of coaching staff.

“These coaches have helped identify a number of university players who they think are suitable for playing Senior Rugby and would benefit from the experience of playing in matches which are generally considered to be more physical in their nature than BUCS or LUSL fixtures.”

Smale pointed out that the limited number of BUCS games leaves many players “chomping at the bit” for more fixtures.

He added, “In turn, this has helped the club boost numbers in both the 1st and 2nd XVs, and indeed been instrumental in enabling the latter to field a team on a regular basis.”

Over 20 Royal Holloway players are now playing at least one game a month for Egham Hollowegians, and although the club does not charge membership fees for the students, they have found other ways of giving back.

Smale said, “Sheldon Cummings has been diligently signing his peers up as Young Rugby Ambassadors over the past few months, and the club has become a partner of Royal Holloway's 'Community Action' programme which encourages student participation in volunteering. Groups of students have regularly helped out with tasks such as pitch maintenance, painting the changing rooms, and helping to coach out Minis and Juniors on Sunday mornings.”

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