Hoppers showing the way

Lancs president David Hodgson, Bob Reeves, ex-Grasshoppers and England man Paul Grayson and Hoppers president Malcom Alden

Lancs president David Hodgson, Bob Reeves, ex-Grasshoppers and England man Paul Grayson and Hoppers president Malcom Alden

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The president of the Rugby Football Union Bob Reeves praised his old club Preston Grasshoppers as an example to the rest of the game.

Hoppers currently have six men’s teams, a women’s team and numerous colts teams and Reeves – who only ever played rugby for Preston – believes that the community feel can influence the national game.

He returned to watch his old club go go 28-17 to Macclesfield at the weekend and said: “The game drastically changed around 15 years ago when teams went from amateur to professional.

“Now, many teams that reach the National League One sacrifice their other teams and junior divisions to concentrate on keeping the first XV in that tier and pay players more money to stay.

“I chair national meetings and it is something we are concerned about.

“But Hoppers aren’t like that – they have many teams and they really care about their role in the community.”

This year is Reeves’ last as RFU president and the former Bristol coach praised the work of England’s head coach Stuart Lancaster.

He said: “Coaching is my passion and Stuart is doing a fantastic job. Two years ago England were under a lot of scrutiny. But now they are in a fantastic place.

“Stuart has installed core values and the fans have embraced it. I’ve never heard Twickenham so loud – people believe.”

England will host the 2015 World Cup and the former Preston Grammar School pupil thinks home advantage can be key.

Reeves said: “It will take a very good team to beat us.

“We are putting a lot of plans in place. We have a lot of ideas like painting the seats all white just like the All Blacks paint their arenas.”

Hoppers face Fylde tomorrow in a Good Friday friendly and one of Reeves’ main memories is a derby day defeat.

He said “A match that stands out was a defeat to Fylde on Boxing Day. I was switched from full-back to wing back.

“I was slow and their winger – Tony Richards – was extremely fast. Fylde’s fly-half Mick Hill used to play for us and he knew I was playing flat, so he kicked the ball over and Richards ran past me to score a try. He scored three that day.”