Leeds residents are gripped by rugby fever

Outside Royal Park Pub and Cellars in Hyde ParkOutside Royal Park Pub and Cellars in Hyde Park

With the Rugby World Cup now well and truly underway, Leeds has been buzzing with excitement for the upcoming fixtures.

Alex Armitstead

Although the bitter taste of recent World Cup memories still lingers with some supporters, that doesn’t stop the mass excitement around Leeds and the belief that this could be England’s year.

The England Rugby team before facing New Zealand in 2016 (Credit: DIALLO 25 on Wikipedia Commons)

The England Rugby team before facing New Zealand in 2016 (Credit: DIALLO 25 on Wikipedia Commons)

Leeds is well known as a sporting city, with top tier Rugby and Football teams and one of the best sports universities in the country. Any event of this size is bound to bring a general buzz with it. But with England in excellent form and rugby continuing to grow into one of the most popular sports in the world, the next month is going to be a busy one and Leeds residents can expect an exciting atmosphere around the city.

Rugby has always been an integral part of Leeds. Students come from all over the world to play for Leeds Beckett University and Yorkshire Carnegie play top standard rugby at the Headingley Stadium every week. The people of Leeds have a special place in their heart for the sport, and that is being demonstrated by the number of fans getting up every morning to watch the games.

With over 100 pubs in Leeds and the surrounding areas, rugby fans have been spoilt for choice as to where to watch the fixtures. Many pubs have opened their doors early to accommodate the time difference between England and Japan, but these morning starts have not deterred any fans, with some establishments expecting packed venues.

Outside Royal Park Pub and Cellars in Hyde Park

Outside Royal Park Pub and Cellars in Hyde Park

Trevor Matthews, a bar manager at the Royal Park Pub and Cellars, is excited about the business that the Rugby World Cup brings with it.

“As England get further into the tournament, more people will come out to watch the games. As they get out of the group stages people tend to come out and get more involved,” he told Leeds Hacks.

“I think Leeds has always been taken by rugby fever. The students are rugby fans, and any big sporting event is good for the bars in Leeds.”

With the majority of students arriving back in Leeds just as the main fixtures begin, this event is set to bring out the perfect mix of locals and students and bring together groups that would normally not get along.

But the busyness and the crowds aren’t the only thing the World Cup has brought with it.

It has been identified that the hype around the World Cup fixtures could be the key to increasing participation and interest in rugby.

Harrison Marshall, coach at Old Otliensians RUFC and winner of the Coaching Moment of the Year Award, is confident that the World Cup will have a positive impact on the game.

“I think participation will increase in Leeds. More people are watching the games and are being inspired to give it a go,” he told us.

Harrison argues that the values that come with rugby are useful to everyone.

“I will always argue that rugby union is a wonderful sport. It helps in so many positive ways- it allows individuals to increase their physical activity levels; to grow in confidence; to gain valuable social skills and discover more about themselves whilst having a competitive edge. Increasing the participation of the sport will allow more people to gain these wonderful human traits.”

The impact of this tournament is having a positive effect all over the city. As fans come together to support their teams, the friendly nature of rugby union comes with it, and fans from different nations are coming together to support their game and put their differences aside.

The Rugby World cup has only just begun and has already brought the city to life. With plenty of games still yet to come, this year’s tournament is set to be a special one.

About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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