When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Oxford's in fine voice to welcome the Welsh
IT might usually be a sea of yellow but the Kassam Stadium will turn red tomorrow for the Premiership debut of London Welsh.
The rugby union club hopes to get off to a flying start against Leicester Tigers in its first official home game at its new ground.
And around Oxford, fans are getting ready to embrace the team into the city.
Chairman of the Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir, George Jenkinson, said: “It will be great to have first class rugby in the city and the Welsh connection is a huge bonus.
“Many of our members are enthusiastic rugby fans and will be keen to continue attending matches.”
His wife Sharron, who is secretary of the choir, said: “We have told the London Welsh choir that any time their numbers need boosting, we are happy to send our members along.
“We would love to be part of this. But I know our members are just happy supporting the local team.”
The club was promoted to the Aviva Premiership earlier this year, but was initially told it did not meet all the criteria for top-flight rugby.
However, after some legal wrangling and a successful appeal against the decision, the team are now settling into Oxford as their new home.
News of the club’s arrival met with relief at The Priory pub on the site, with the club bringing some much-needed business.
Earlier this year, landlord Tim Rackley told the Oxford Mail he had been struggling financially before being thrown the lifeline.
He said: “We are getting quite excited about it now, we’ve brought in 30 ales and we have six bars ready to go.
“We’ll also be doing a hog roast, music and putting some gourmet steak and onion on the barbecue for them.”
He added: “We are really pushing the boat out so we’ll hopefully be very busy.”
Colin Edwards, from the Oxfordshire Welsh Society, said: “Through the society we secured a block booking for 36 season-ticket holders so we are doing our little bit to generate support. We are very excited at the prospect of top level rugby in Oxford.” Blackbird Leys resident and community worker Jim Hewitt said: “It’s nice to know there is something going on over at the Kassam that makes people so excited.”
Chairman of the London Welsh Supporters’ Club, Martin John, said: “It’ll be a big challenge but they’ve got new players, they’ll do their best and hopefully it will be an exciting game for everyone.
“There has been a lot of interest from the Oxford area.”
The match kicks off at 2pm, with usual matchday parking regulations in place in Blackbird Leys West, Brake Hill, Fry’s Hill and Minchery Farm.
Fans coming from the city centre can catch the Number 5 bus and parking is available at the stadium.
Tickets will be available from the box office at the stadium before the game and cost between £22 and £30.