The opening ceremony took place at 1pm today (26/10)Dave Johnson/Homerton College

Earlier today (26/10), Rugby Football Union (RFU) President Jeffrey Blackett and his wife Sally opened the new Homerton College Sports Ground located on Long Road in Cambridge.

The turf-cutting ceremony took place back in November 2019 with personnel from both St Mary’s School and Homerton College in attendance. St Mary’s owns the facilities and have leased the land to Homerton for 66 years.

The Sports Ground includes two floodlit AstroTurf pitches - one for hockey, lacrosse and ultimate frisbee, and the other for football and rugby - as well as three floodlit netball and tennis courts. It also contains cricket nets, high jump and long jump facilities, a junior grass football pitch, and in the summer an athletics track. A pavilion has been erected too, which holds four changing rooms, a small kitchen and seating area, and state-of-the-art medical rooms.

At the time of the initial plans for construction, Bursar of Homerton College Deborah Griffin OBE said: “The partnership between Homerton and St Mary’s has been very productive for our institutions, and the proposal adds an important new facility for Cambridge community use”.

The facilities will be accessible to Homerton students for free, while local community groups, including University clubs, will have the opportunity to book the venue in support of Cambridgeshire County Council’s health and wellbeing strategy.

More recently, Griffin commented: “I think it is important for Homerton to have these facilities to provide our students with the ability to train, play, and enjoy themselves throughout the year, but especially during the dark winter evening that cover most of the first two terms”.

The Sports Ground was also designed to minimise environmental impact and the site’s overall carbon footprint. Working with Ingleton Wood Martindale’s Ltd, such measures incorporated the installation of solar panels and energy-efficient lighting and floodlights. Furthermore, key wildlife corridors were protected and additional trees were planted, as well as the insertion of anti-flood provision in the drainage scheme.

Blackett’s invitation to conduct the opening ceremony comes as part of his 150-mile walk during a 15-day nationwide tour as part of the RFU’s official 150th Anniversary celebrations, raising money for the Injured Players Foundation.


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He was appointed President of the RFU for the 2020-21 season in June last year, after first taking up a role in the organisation back in 2000. Blackett is also a British former judge and Royal Navy officer with the rank of Commodore.

In light of hosting the event, Blackett expressed his admiration for such facilities: “My hope is that, by having fantastic facilities like the new Homerton Sports Ground, it will encourage people to play more sports and also encourage young people to understand both the physical and mental benefits of rugby in particular”.

Although Blackett claims that he “will not be further involved in Cambridge University rugby”, he will continue to “be a great supporter of it, especially at the college level”.

The Sports Ground will become the new home for most of Homerton’s sports teams this competitive season and thereafter.