Otley looking to build on and off the pitch says Clegg

Peter Clegg
Peter Clegg
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OTLEY director of rugby Peter Clegg says his attention is on making the side reach its potential rather than concentrate on whether the club will gain a new home.

They celebrate their 150th anniversary today when they were due to host Leicester Lions at what has been their ground for almost a century – Cross Green.

Ambitious chairman Paul Mackie, the former centre who played for Otley in the mid-1970s and took over in May, hopes to see the National Two North club advance further with a potential new stadium in the town.

Clegg, back this season for his latest spell at the club, is excited by that prospect.

“He is great for the rugby club and just what it needed,” he said.

“If the new ground comes then it comes but obviously my focus isn’t on that.

“It’s on the players and getting the players playing to their full ability.

“If we can do that – getting them performing to a level that Otley deserves – then that will be great and the club will improve.

“If the ground comes as well then that’s fantastic and we’ll go embrace it.

“But, for the moment, Cross Green is our home and we’re doing lots of things to it like improving the first-team dressing rooms.

“It’s had some great history and it’s brilliant that the club can celebrate 150 years, too.

“It’s a wonderful club with a great set of supporters and hopefully we can produce some great rugby this season.”

Clegg led Otley to their finest ever finishes when he guided them to fifth in England’s then second-tier National One two seasons running in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

Always punching above their weight, the Cross Greeners earned a reputation as being one of the toughest sides outside of the Premiership.

Meanwhile, Fred Burdon, the former Leeds Carnegie centre currently recovering from a snapped Achilles tendon, is working as part of the coaching staff at Otley.

Still only 25, Clegg said: “He’s doing his coaching badges and he’s got a great future in front of him if his rugby career doesn’t get back on track.

“But, first and foremost, that is his aim – to get playing again – and we all hope he can do that with Otley and help us in what we want to do this season.”