During the euphoria of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, one resident of the sleepy Kent village of Leigh felt inspired. Simply to create a rugby club would not be enough, this was to be a community hub, and a refuge to many of its players – Leigh Rugby Football Club was born, swiftly dubbed as The Layabouts.
On a misty November morning, the first ever Layabouts training session took place; to date it remains the largest turn out of players for training, so many bodies but so little talent. Six training sessions followed and the ‘Leigh Layabouts’ were prepared for the inaugural match against an Old Street XV on the village green, a spectacle witnessed by over 200 spectators, as well as local press. Coming a long way from their spiritual home on Leigh’s village green, they are now proud to play at their own sports ground, aptly named ‘The Field of Dreams’. With a small clubhouse and a single playing pitch, it may not be much, but it’s theirs.
With a simple ethos; The Layabouts are proud to offer the chance to play organic grassroots rugby as a part of a social, inclusive and accessible community sports club, often including both those at the latter stages of their sporting careers, and those just at the beginning. The club’s community also spreads much further than the rugby pitch, and they have been keen to stay connected throughout lockdown, with regular video calls becoming the norm, both as a social tool and a key approach to checking on the wellbeing of their members.
Whilst the previous season was cut short due to COVID-19, Club Captain Jack Rogers remains positive, with even a hint of excitement surrounding a long preseason: “This is without a doubt the strongest buy-in we’ve experienced during my time with the club. Whether this is due to the excitement of a talented young squad, or simply due to everyone being pent up following three months stuck indoors, we’re capitalising on it and working hard to get ready for the new season, whenever that might be.”
Currently running one senior men’s side, the 2020/21 season sees the Layabouts entering their 15th year in the Kent & East Sussex Rural Leagues, winning Division Three in 2013/14 and Division Four in 2016/17. As a club still in its relative infancy, they are truly trying to push forward for the coming season, attempting initially to gather additional sponsorship to cover costs of a number of basic necessities throughout the season, including kit and training equipment. Alongside this, player retention is at an all-time high, with a number of exciting players adding much needed depth to the squad.
The Layabouts’ pre-season has already kicked off, with training on both Monday and Wednesday evenings. If you fancy getting involved you can contact them via Facebook (Leigh RFC – The Layabouts), Twitter (@leighlayabouts) or Instagram (leighlayaboutsrfc).