World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont spoke exclusively to ncarugby.com about why the National Leagues are so essential as well as his close relationship with current National Two North side Fylde.
“The National Leagues are an integral part of a player’s development.”
It is a sentence which has no doubt been said on numerous occasions to describe the lower tiers of English rugby.
But when that statement comes from the current chairman of World Rugby, you start to take notice of what the National Leagues have to offer.
"Deep down I'm Lancastrian – I'm proud of this area and everything it stands for"
England and Fylde Rugby legend Bill Beaumont looks back on his life and career
— BBC Lancashire Sport (@BBCLancsSport) January 25, 2018
Bill Beaumont is no stranger to this level of the game. He joined Fylde, who currently ply their trade in National Two North, as a 17-year-old in 1969 and stayed with the Lancashire club until he was forced to retire in 1982.
Beaumont went on to represent England and captained the national side on 21 occasions. He also skippered the Lions during their tour of South Africa in 1980 and now he finds himself at the top of the global game.
But despite his stature in the sport, Fylde remains extremely close to Beaumont’s heart and he insists the National Leagues play a vital role in the development of players in this country.
“The National Leagues provide a very good standard of rugby,” Beaumont exclusively told ncarugby.com
“It gives players the opportunity in a semi-pro or amateur environment to play a really good standard of rugby whilst not being a professional, which I think is quite important.
“The National Leagues are an integral part of a player’s development. If you look at the current England team, there are lots of guys who have played National League rugby.
“For instance, Kyle Sinckler played for Richmond when they were in National Two South. I think Joe Marler and Joe Launchbury also played at that level.
“I saw Maro Itoje play for Old Albanian against Fylde at Fylde so I have seen a lot of the England players who are now with clubs in the Premiership, play in the National Leagues.
“At Fylde, Richard Wigglesworth started off here and Kieran Brookes played here as well. They are now in the Premiership after playing for a small club in Lancashire.”
Beaumont also naturally eludes to his youngest son Josh, who falls into same bracket as the aforementioned Wigglesworth and Brookes.
Josh is currently at Sale Sharks while his brothers Danny and Sam, also represented Fylde with the latter making over 200 appearances and the Beaumont family connection continues to be strong at the Lancashire club.
“I am a life member of the club and it was the only club I played for,” added Beaumont. “My father played for them and my grandfather played for them. My sons have all represented the club successfully.
“Whenever I am at home, I will walk down to the ground and see my mates, have few beers afterwards and normally talk rubbish the more the evening goes on!
“Look, Fylde has been very much an integral part of my life and still is. It is the first result I look for. I was in Spain on Saturday and I was following the result on Twitter and I do that all the time to see how they are getting on.”
While Beaumont was away in Spain, he would have noticed Fylde’s convincing 47-7 victory over Peterborough Lions in National Two North.
Last season, the Lancashire outfit were relegated from National One for the first time in eight years and now current Head Coach Warren Spragg has been tasked with guiding Fylde back to the third tier.
Spragg has built a young and vibrant team at Woodlands and after seven matches this term, Fylde sit just six points off the top two places.
Beaumont has seen the current crop of players face Otley and Sheffield Tigers this season and he believes Fylde have all the capabilities to challenge for promotion this term.
— Fylde Rugby (@fylderugby) October 13, 2018
Beaumont added: “I think Spraggy is a very good coach. They are a very, very young team and it would be great if they can all stick together because in three or four year’s time, they will be a real force without a doubt.
“National One is difficult. If I look around the leagues, when Fylde got promotion about seven years ago, they had a really good team and I think one year, they finished third.
“Now, because of the whole nature of the game, players move on and they retire and you then have to start again as Fylde have done.
“National Two is a tough league, but it is great to be able to come up against the likes of Otley, Wharfedale and Tynedale again as well our local rivals just down the other end of the M55, Preston Grasshoppers!
“But this year, the team will be trying to get promotion. They will look towards the top of the table rather than the bottom because they have a really good, young squad that can do well this season.”