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Happy 125th Birthday Rugby League From the Duke of Sussex

The Duke of Sussex, Patron of the Rugby Football League, wishes Rugby League a Happy 125th Birthday, praising the sport’s community values

The Duke spoke with players, coaches, and volunteers, hosted a special birthday quiz, and introduced his own special guest – one of the greatest ever players of the game - Ellery Hanley MBE.

The Duke of Sussex talked via videolink to members of the Rugby League family about what the sport means to them and their experience during lockdown. He then led the group in a just-for-fun ‘set of six’ quiz to help celebrate the sport’s 125th birthday. The Duke expressed his admiration for the way Rugby League people have come together in this period ‘as a family’ and how the sport has thrived over 125 years – and his particular admiration for the speed and bravery of the players and the contribution the sport makes to its communities. He said:

“It can bring so many families together, bring so many people together… it doesn't matter whether you're in the stands, whether you're the groundsman, whether you're a player, whether you're a fan, or whether you're a first-time watcher, every single person is bound by this family feeling.”

The Duke surprised the group by introducing his own special guest - Rugby League legend Ellery Hanley. Ellery shared his life-long love for the sport, including the mutual respect between players and its warmth and friendliness. The Duke heard from St Helens Women’s Super League players Gemma Walsh and Emily Rudge, who also captains England Women. Both players are missing the sport and glad to have each other to train alongside. Jamie Jones-Buchanan spoke passionately about the founding of the rebel sport of Rugby League 125 years ago as ‘the glue that holds communities together’. The Leeds Rhinos and England star was joined in his home-made gym by son Kurgan who plays for Stanningley ARLFC. Newcastle Thunder’s Jordan Robinson and academy player Alex Donaghy joined from Kingston Park Stadium in the city and shared how the sport has come together in the North East despite the impact on the playing season.

Volunteer Fionna Everson joined from her home in Hull where she has supported the community game for over 30 years and is helping the return of children’s Rugby League. The Duke looked forward to the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and concluded by congratulating everyone on getting their quiz questions right and by thanking everyone for their continued commitment to the sport.

Rugby League is one of the few sports that can point to the time and date of its founding - 6.30 pm on Thursday, 29 August 1895 at the George Hotel in the centre of Huddersfield. The Northern Union was founded, enabling working men to break time to play and be remunerated. Rugby League was born. The Duke succeeded HM The Queen as Patron of the RFL in December 2016. Last year he presented the Challenge Cup at Wembley, meeting representatives of children’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League as well as the finalists.

In January he hosted the draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in Buckingham Palace and launched the RLWC2021 Mental Fitness Charter. The Duke has been active in supporting the England squad throughout his relationship with the sport.

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AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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