Rugby legend Jason Robinson OBE hails 'vital' National Lottery funding on return to old haunt in Hunslet

Rugby legend Jason Robinson OBE hailed the National Lottery's funding of rugby as 'vital' on his return to The Hunslet Club.

The 47-year-old reached dizzy heights in both rugby codes, representing England in rugby union and rugby league as well as the likes of Wigan Warriors and Sale Sharks at club level.

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However, it was at his local club in Leeds that he began honing his craft.

Jason Robinson OBE started his career at The Hunslet Club. Credit: Simon Hulme

He returned to The Hunslet Club this week to see how his local club have benefitted from National Lottery funding, which has been delivered via the Rugby League World Cup 2021 CreatedBy grants programme.

"It's not important, it's vital," he said. "Seeing the place buzzing with kids of all different ages and backgrounds, just playing their sports, just enjoying it, is massive."

"It's massive for the community and it shows the amazing work that The Hunslet Club is doing and that's why the National Lottery funding is so important because without that, clubs wouldn't be able to do what they do now."

The National Lottery is an official partner of the upcoming Rugby League World Cup and lottery players are providing £750,000 of support to some of England's most disadvantaged communities.

Robinson led training with one of The Hunslet Club's girls rugby teams and the National Lottery has strived to ensure the women's game has been supported after it endured difficulties throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

"One of the great things about girls and women's rugby is it's on an upward curve," Robinson explained. "The participation levels are increasing by huge numbers, it's only right that they have the facilities and the exposure that they need,

"We want to grow the game and growing the game is is not all about the men's now, it's about the women's and giving them the opportunity to fulfil that potential. It's just nice talking to some of the girls and just being able to share some some advice."

As beneficiaries of National Lottery funding, The Hunslet Club have been able to continue providing activities and opportunities to children across Leeds.

The club offers over 105 activities and as someone who excelled in his sport after ascending their ranks, Robinson is well aware of how crucial The Hunslet Club's support is.

"Everybody's mixing, everybody's getting on, everybody's smiling," he said. "We know the last two years have been really difficult for the children, not just around lack of exercise and being together but also for mental health.

"It keeps them off the streets, the parents know where they are, they're safe, they're secure, they're getting healthier, they're learning new skills,

"It's not just making a difference to them and their families - it's making a difference to the community."

Over 9.3m across the next five years has been pledged towards the supporting of rugby league development by the National Lottery.

Their support of clubs in the community extends beyond sport as The Hunslet Club are able to provide an open door policy and meals for children through the week because of the funding they have received.

Andrew Beadnall is the club chair and has placed on record his appreciation for the support.

"It's because of the funding from the lottery that we're able to offer our youth club," he said. "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night, we've got an open door policy and we feed kids - these are difficult times for all families in all areas.

"The funding that we've got from the National Lottery is off the scale. As chair of the club, I could never thank them enough for picking us.

"It's because of them that all these kids attending youth club have something to eat and all these activities, it's down to them."