The gritty commitment shown by Southwold's rugby players, who have braved draughty, leaky changing rooms on cold winter match days for decades, has been rewarded.

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The gritty commitment shown by Southwold's rugby players, who have braved draughty, leaky changing rooms on cold winter match days for decades, has been rewarded.

The long-awaited £460,000 sports pavilion on Southwold Common was opened officially yesterday by the president of the Rugby Football Association (RFU) Brian Williams.

Fifteen years after the idea to replace the old structure was first mooted, Southwold's sports teams can look forward to concentrating on game tactics, instead of worrying about patching up the old clubhouse at their home ground.

Over the years, several funding bids to replace the temporary structure, which was built in the 1960s and extended twice in the 1980s, fell through. Concerned about the future of the club, Southwold Rugby Club's president Rob Temple wrote to his counterpart at the RFU.

“I told him, this is not going to happen. We've got hundreds of children who may transfer to other sports. It was looking very negative,” he said.

The club's resilience over the years caught the imagination of England's rugby chiefs, who put up £125,000 for a new pavilion, an amount which was matched by the National Sports Foundation.

The patchwork funding was completed by a £50,000 pledge by Southwold Town Council and £75,000 from the Southwold Trust.

The new timber structure boasts four changing rooms, a clubroom, a bar and kitchen and a space for scrum machines and equipment.

“It was a bit ramshackle before,” said Mr Temple. “We had a shanty town of sheds round the back.

“This is a great asset to the community and I think having seen what the players have had to put up with in the past they are delighted.”

In a show of community spirit the pavilion, which is owned by the Southwold and Reydon Recreational Development Council, has been named after merchant William Godell, who left the common to the people of Southwold as a legacy. Next year marks the 500th anniversary of his death.

Mr Temple said: “The more we thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed. If he hadn't left the common to the town we wouldn't have the opportunities we have today.”

The ground's other teams, Sole Bay United Football Club and Southwold Cricket Club, marked yesterday's occasion with a 20-20 cricket match, while the rugby club's First XV pitted themselves against the President's XV.

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