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One of Rugby League’s biggest success stories will be celebrated in style this weekend when over 120 players take to the pitch in a festival marking the 10th anniversary of Masters RL in the UK.
Masters is a format of Rugby League that allows players aged over 35 to continue playing the game for the rest of their lives in a safe, respectful and enjoyable environment.
There are currently over 1,500 active Masters players in England and Wales, many of whom will come together at Saddleworth Rangers ARLFC on Saturday for a tournament featuring teams representing Cumbria, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Other Regions, Great Britain Masters Lions and a RL Cares Select side.
Masters players wear different coloured shorts to determine the level of contact needed to tackle them: the youngest Masters players are 35 and the oldest in the UK is an 83-year-old from Blackpool.
Martin Flynn, the secretary of the Master Steering Group committee, said: “We have had some incredible experiences over the last 10 years and Saturday is going to be a great celebration of what has been a fantastic journey.
“Rugby League is a tough, demanding sport but the beauty of Masters is that age is no barrier to continuing to play – or starting to play – the game we all love.
“We now have teams across the country, from west Cumbria and Newcastle, through the Rugby League ‘heartlands’ to the Midlands, North Wales, London, the South East and in places like Southampton and Brighton.
“Some of the players involved didn’t take up Rugby League until they were in their 50s or 60s and it’s brilliant to see how much enjoyment men of all ages get from being involved.
“The international element of Masters has been hugely important in our success: in the last 10 years 170 people have represented Great Britain in Masters Tests against Australia and New Zealand and the tours are very popular.
“If anyone over 35 misses their playing days, or regrets never having taken up the game as a young man, I’d definitely recommend giving Masters a go.”
The different coloured shorts are age-related but players are also tackled with respect based on their mobility and ability. Games are played 25 minutes each way and all end with a 0-0 scoreline.
Registered players are allowed to play with any Masters team during a season which extends from January through to December.
The action at the Masters 10th birthday festival kicks off at Saddleworth Rangers, Shaw Hall Bank Rd, Greenfield, Oldham OL3 7LD at 1.00pm on Saturday April 14. Admission is free.
For more information on how to become involved in Masters Rugby League or details of your local club please email MastersRugbyLeague@gmail.com