Harrogate Rugby Club prepare for historic debut in new £3m home

121214 James Smithies the Chairman of Harrogate Rugby Union Club next to their new clubhouse at their new ground on Rudding Park Lane in Harrogate. (GL1004/36a)
121214 James Smithies the Chairman of Harrogate Rugby Union Club next to their new clubhouse at their new ground on Rudding Park Lane in Harrogate. (GL1004/36a)
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Harrogate Rugby Club will make their long-awaited debut at their new Rudding Lane home against local rival Otley on Saturday.

The National Two North club will finally end their 119 year association with Claro Road as they make their historic move into their new £3m facility.

Complications with the clubhouse construction and three of the four pitches at Rudding twice delayed the club’s move which was originally scheduled for January 2014.

Despite the delays, chairman James Smithies remains excited to usher in the new season, and a new era, at the much improved new home of Harrogate Rugby Club.

He said: “We are all delighted to be as far as we are, the grounds are ready and prepared and the first team pitch looks tremendous.

“We think there will be a large turnout on Saturday to celebrate the new grounds opening but it would be a big day regardless because we’re up against Otley.

“We are extremely excited to be moving in to this purpose built facility. Whilst we’ve played at Claro Road for 100 odd years and made do with this, Rudding Lane is a very different setting and offers an exciting prospect for us moving forward as a club.”

Despite Mr Smithies’ celebrations and relief at moving to the new grounds, the club’s chairman did reveal a tone of caution.

The move has been funded by the club’s landlords Crest Nicholson but Mr Smithies revealed that this agreement has meant the club are still searching for additional funding on a ‘day to day basis’.

He said: “This funding will go to completing all the things that still need doing at the ground.

“For example, three out of the four pitches are only just setting down. They were meant to be completed by autumn las year but they were only completed in spring this year.”

However, Mr Smithies confirmed that the ongoing work would not affect the opening game against Otley.

Ahead of the 3pm kick off, the new club flag, bought by Friends of Harrogate Rugby, will be raised as well as a selection of food stalls available.