Salford rugby fans are being invited to take part in a 120-mile walk to celebrate 120 years of Rugby League, a true community sport says Rugby Football League (RFL) Director of European Development and Acting Director of Communication Niel Wood.
The Founders Walk will take place over six days and will see rugby fans visit the original home stadiums of the 22 clubs that founded the Northern Union back in 1895. It has been organised in association with the sport’s charity Rugby League Cares.
In Salford, fans are being invited to walk through Grosvenor Park, New Broughton to Buile Hill Park on Eccles Old Road. Grosvenor Park was the home of the club when they joined the Northern Union as founder members on August 29 1895.
The Salford leg is on July 23 and starts at 9.30am from Riverview Primary school, Wheater’s Street, near to Green Grosvenor Park.
Wood, of the RFL, told MM: “The fundraising can be for whatever the walkers decide, but it is to support the good, charitable causes around the game. It could be a junior club raising funds for itself.
“Rugby League Cares is the charity of the sport, which provides education and welfare and heritage and benevolent funding, so it could be to that.”
However, Wood also revealed that many people taking part in the walk are fundraising for several other charities.
“However, it could be to other charities. We’re not really discriminating at all. I know people are walking for Age UK and prostate cancer research, so it’s basically any good causes that people wish to raise funds for.”
Wood claimed that there will be ‘hundreds’ of people taking part and he ‘would hope to get into thousands’.
The full walk starts in Hull and ends in Warrington and St Helens. It will run from Sunday 19 July to Friday 24 July and covers 120 miles.
Walkers can join in as much of the route as they wish and are being invited to raise money for good causes in the sport.
Wood provided detail that the event will ‘probably have 20 people who are going to walk the full thing’.
“There is a small core group, me being one of them, that is going to try and do the full 120 miles,” he said.
“The walk is being led by Nigel Wood, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Rugby Football League, so he is going the full 120 miles, along with a small group of others.”
Councillor Ann-Marie Humphreys, Assistant Mayor for Culture, Leisure and Sport, welcomed the fact that the walk was coming to Salford.
She said: “This is a great way to remember the pioneers of rugby and raise money for good causes. I hope rugby fans will put their best boots forward and pay tribute to the origins of their sport.”
Niel Wood also described how the sport plays a ‘really important part’ in people’s life.
“It’s a really important part of life in all of the communities where Rugby League exists, never mind just the North of England,” he said.
He also highlighted the significance of the sport in terms of its impact on the community.
“Rugby League is an enjoyable and exciting sport to watch, at whatever level you watch it. It is very much part of its community so it prides itself on the family aspects.
“Whether its people supporting or playing the sport, people in their family and the local community get behind them and support them.
“It is very much part of its community so it prides itself on the family aspects. Whether its people supporting or playing the sport, people in their family and the local community get behind them and support them.”
Neil Wood also praised the remarkable achievements of Rugby League, growing from ‘a field in Broughton’ to be played ‘all over the world’.
“Across the world, Rugby League grew from these 22 founder clubs – one of which was based in Salford at Broughton and it is now played all over the world.
He also made reference to an extraordinary event that occurred last week, providing the epitome of the communal and collective traits of the sport.
“I saw last weekend that Russia played Ukraine at Rugby League,” he recalled.
“They’re having a war, but they still managed to play a game. That’s a remarkable achievement from a field in Broughton.”
To participate in the Founders Walk, please register with a £5 donation to Rugby League Cares. You will then receive a ‘participant pack’, containing a charity wristband and the route, as well as a sponsorship pack so that you can in turn raise funds for yourself.
Registration for any part of the walk, including the Salford leg, should be completed by email to [email protected]
The full route is listed below:
Sunday July 19 – eight-mile stroll around Hull, starting from the Walton Street car park and taking in The Boulevard before ending at the KC Stadium.
Monday July 20 – starts at Fartown in Huddersfield and passes through Brighouse, Batley and Dewsbury before reaching Wakefield Trinity at the end of the 20-mile stage.
Tuesday July 21 – covers 24.5 miles between Hunslet and Halifax, taking in Headingley, Manningham, Bradford Park Avenue and Illingworth on the way.
Wednesday July 22 – 22 miles starting at Rochdale and ending at Edgeley Park via Oldham.
Thursday July 23 – is when weary legs will be tested over 22.5 miles between Wheater Street in Broughton and the DW Stadium in Wigan.
Friday July 24 – sees the walk conclude with a 23-mile stage between Fletcher Street in Warrington and Langtree Park in St Helens.
Image courtesy of Super League TV via YouTube, with thanks.