Friday, October 23, 2015

Martin Offiah: “The London 2012 Olympic legacy lives

Rugby legend tests Olympic Stadium pitch with local club ahead of England v New Zealand clash.

Emdad Rahman: Rugby League legend Martin “Chariots” Offiah MBE, one of England’s most successful players ever, joined amateur players in the first ever Rugby League training session on the Olympic Stadium pitch. Offiah trained with players to mark the countdown to the forthcoming England V New Zealand game. The rugby icon joined players of all ages from new east London club, the Newham Dockers, to test out the Olympic Stadium pitch ahead of the historic international match and celebrate world-class Rugby League coming to east London.

A former England winger, “Chariots” was born in east London, is the third highest Rugby League try scorer of all time (501) and jointly holds the record for tries scored in an England game.

The Newham Dockers were founded in 2012 by two Rugby League enthusiasts with a dream of creating a new Rugby League team based in West Ham, just a stone’s throw from the Olympic Stadium. The team won their first London League Grand Final in 2013. With the support of a team of volunteers from the RFL, Sport England, the Mayor of London and the Hard Rock Café, they have created senior and junior teams, giving young people in east London from Under-12 upwards the chance to play Rugby League for the first time.

On Saturday, 7th November a huge year for Rugby in England continues as England Rugby League take on New Zealand, the best in the world at the moment, in the first League game ever to be played in the Olympic Stadium.
Offiah said he was looking ahead to the New Zealand clash: “The London 2012 Olympic legacy lives onIt’s all happening in the Stadium where the England players will hope to be inspired by the way Mo Farah, Jess Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford beat the best in the world to win Gold.”

Offiah spoke about the huge boost Rugby World Cup 2015 has given rugby and how London and the Olympic Stadium
are hosting fantastic games and a fantastic tournament. “I’m delighted to publicise the first international rugby fixture to be played in this part of the world. I’m a Hackney born lad myself and I will be here in November to cheer on England against a formidable New Zealand team. This is my first visit to the Olympic Stadium and it’s an amazing structure. It will be a fantastic home for West Ham fans and indeed something to cherish. This move will take the club up to the next level.

“The stadium is intimate, yet grand – and it’s a great honour for Newham Dockers to be the first Rugby League team to set foot on this turf for a training session. My last Super League outing was in 2001 and I’ve enjoyed running about with these competitive lads today. The banter and camaraderie takes me back to the old days when I used to play. I miss the days of the past but I have a great life. It’s nice to dip the toe in once in a while and savour the experience.”

Offiah believes the Olympic Stadium is the perfect way to encourage more interest in rugby: “I will be here to watch England play New Zealand on November 7th and I would encourage everyone to come along. Cheap tickets are available and it’s all happening on your doorstep. This is a great way to be inspired and sign up to play rugby. Newham Council and Rugby League are working closely together and we can expect to see more and more youngsters playing the sport in the years to come.

“Tickets are still available and I urge the public to come, watch, forge a career path or just take away something positive. The opportunity is there. Wembley and Twickenham may be far away but this game is happening on your doorstep.”

On the Rugby World Cup, Offiah added : “It’s been a fantastic World Cup. Japan lit the touch paper with their immense victory over South Africa. The Tier 2 nations have played fantastic rugby and really closed the gap on the rest of the big countries. It’s disappointing that England did not do as well as we would have liked and the exit has put a lot of pressure on the coaching team and governing body as a whole.

“But it’s time to look forward. I hope this stadium will be full in November for the fixture against New Zealand. There will
be some world class players here from different codes and from all over the world – from the NRL to New Zealand, to the Super League. I hope fans will back the team, feed into the occasion and take something positive away from the experience.”

On Saturday, 7th November (2.30pm), England face New Zealand in the Olympic Stadium in the second of a three match test series which starts at the KC Stadium (Hull) on Sunday, 1st November and concludes at the DW Stadium (Wigan) on Saturday, 14th November.

Tickets to England v New Zealand at the Olympic Stadium on 7 November 2015 cost from £22 for adults and £10 for concessions per game and are available via the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844-856 1113 or at:

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