Leeds Rhinos branching out in bid to hit big target

Return of club branches would help Rhinos fans travel to the big matches together.
Return of club branches would help Rhinos fans travel to the big matches together.
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Champions Leeds Rhinos hope a revival of supporters’ clubs throughout the city will help them hit ‘Target 10,000’.

Rhinos aim to have a five-figure total of season-ticket holders by the time the 2013 campaign kicks off two months on Saturday. (Dec 1)

Chief executive Gary Hetherington says he wants to recruit an army of “Rhinos ambassadors” who will encourage friends, family and work colleagues to attend matches and support the club.

Hetherington has already hosted an evening at Headingley Carnegie for interested fans.

Rhinos have just one supporters’ club branch, but Hetherington recalled: “I remember back in the 1960s and 70s there were supporters’ clubs across the city who used to organise trips to away games and cup finals and where fans used to meet before and after home games, travelling together.

“It was a simple format but one that really helped spread the word about the club and gave people a sense of their own community.

“We put an appeal in our season-ticket brochure for anyone who was interested to get in touch with me personally and I was delighted by the response.

“One gentleman is a regular at Harehills WMC. He went to the Grand Final last October and came back to the club to find it packed with people who had done likewise, which had him thinking why they hadn’t gone together.

“It is all part of our ambassador scheme. We have ambassadors in all the city’s junior clubs, in schools and some businesses.

“The fourth part of that is supporters’ club branches. Each will have an ambassador and we want to hear from people interested in becoming a Rhinos ambassador with a view to forming a supporters’ club branch.

“It’s all about helping to grow membership and delivering benefits for members, about creating a local hub for Rhinos fans.”

Hetherington said his appeal has attracted responses from “school teachers, business owners, factory workers and pub landlords” in and outside the city.

“It’s a throwback to the 50s and 60s, when there were over 50 supporters’ club branches in the city,” he said.

“But it’s also an extension of that, because we’re looking outside the city as well. We’ve already had interest from Tadcaster, Doncaster, Settle, Skipton, Wetherby, even Whitehaven – and we’ve heard from someone who lives in Brisbane.”

“We have set ourselves the target 
of attracting 10,000 members by the start of the season in February and for that we need to bring in around 1,000 new members between now and then. This is a key part of our awareness drive.”

For further information about becoming one of Rhinos’ club ambassadors, contact Amy Herrison on 0113 203 3285 or email amy.herrison@leedsrugby.com.

Monday is the early bird deadline for members to renew season tickets at a reduced rate.

Rhinos’ Headingley ticket office and club shop will be open from 9am-4pm tomorrow and 9am-5pm on Monday.

Rhinos members/season ticket holders also have until Monday to buy reduced-price tickets for the World Club Challenge showdown with Melbourne Storm, at Headingley on Friday, February 22.

Tickets go on general sale on Tuesday, with prices beginning at £23 for adults and £16 concessions.

Matt Parcell.

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