Fenland Foxes prepare for debut season as first rugby league team in district’s history

RUGBY players have united for the first training sessions of the Fenland Foxes - the first rugby league team in the district’s history.

Players from across the Fens were put through their paces at Harecroft Road on Tuesday by Ash Howlett, a development coach with the Rugby Football League. The first ever session was held the week before.

Numbers have already begun to grow, with players from Wisbech and March Bears union sides among those interested. Two friendlies against West Norfolk’s new rugby league team have been organised for later this month.

Howlett, originally from March, said: “There are so many rugby players based in the Fens so the potential is absolutely huge.

“Rugby is very tribal in most areas but this team could bring guys from places like March and Wisbech together. You will have guys who are knocking seven bells out of each other in the rugby union season who could unite together for Fenland.”

Howlett hopes that the Foxes will compete in a branch of the Eastern Merit League in their debut season.

The 24-year-old coach has dedicated himself to developing rugby league across the country, starting a new side in Leamington after a horrific injury cut his own playing career short.

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He said: “The game sells itself. I have never had anyone that has played it and then turned around and said it’s not for them. I think Fenland could be a real force.

“When this started in Leamington we got eight people at the first training session. Two years later we won the league - that’s how quickly you can grow.

“I love the sport. It has given me my job and my hobby and I want to see it in the Fens.”

Shane Vickers, a key player for Wisbech’s union side, has also been a driving force behind the new team.

He said: “As soon as Ash decided to get the ball rolling we wanted everyone to come together. Now he can’t play, I think he’s more interested than ever in rugby league. He wants to develop the game.

“A lot of the lads haven’t played league much so the first year will be a bit of a learning curve. But I’m very positive about it and I think all the lads are looking forward to it.”