The Leeds Rugby Academy in Kirkstall officially reopened today – more than six months after being devastated by the Boxing Day floods.
Leeds Rhinos were forced, along with Yorkshire Carnegie, to train elsewhere when facilities at the Kirkstall training base became contaminated after the River Aire burst its banks over Christmas.
The site is also used by Leeds Rhinos Foundation, which works with more than 50,000 people every year, as well as Kirkstall community club Milford Marlins ARLFC.
Caddick Construction helped transform the facility. The entire ground floor of the 14,500 sq ft training building was stripped out, redesigned and reinstated with flood protection to all areas, including submersible pumps, Polymer rendered walls, resin floors and metal doors.
Timber floors have been replaced with concrete and all plumbing and electrics have been upgraded. External works include reinstating areas damaged by the floods and creating a new 20-space car park.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said:
“It is a fantastic feeling to return to our home facility after six months away. I would like to thank all those organisations across Leeds and the wider community who have welcomed our teams over the past few months to share their facilities.
“Without the generosity of the many clubs, universities, schools and gyms who helped to accommodate us it would have been extremely difficult to have continued the work that we do.
“I would also like to thank the tradespeople and suppliers who have supported Caddicks to restore the building and pitches and as special mention must go to Sue Ward, who oversaw the whole project for us and made sure that it was completed on time.”
Andrew Murray, managing director of Caddick Construction, said:
“The Boxing Day floods affected a great number of people throughout the region – in the Kirkstall area many businesses and homes experienced large-scale damage.
“The construction team on site faced five feet of water on the pitch area and the training building which houses a gym, changing rooms, physio/rehab areas, wrestling rooms, doctors room, ice baths, coach areas, stats room, theatre rooms, kitchen, dining and staff areas.
“Work began in March this year and the project has been completed on time. We are delighted that they can now resume with full use of the facilities.”
Leeds Rhinos Foundation Trustee and Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Lucinda Yeadon helped re-open the venue, unveiling a new plaque to commemorate the event alongside Director of Operations Bob Bowman, Yorkshire Carnegie Head Coach Brian Redpath and Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott.
Cllr Yeadon said:
“It’s just over six months now when I first got the phone call to say that it was raining in Kirkstall and it was flooding to the point where Kirkstall Road was now a river flowing into Leeds city centre. In the immediate aftermath of the floods when I came to see it, I think it’s fair to say it was one of the most devastating things I’d ever seen.
“However, from that we have seen the community rally together to become stronger, so I’m really pleased six months later to be able to open this facility because if there is one thing that you guys (Leeds Rugby) represent, it is the importance of community and how important you are to us, and to have you back home is incredibly significant to say that Kirkstall is vibrant and back up and running and this demonstrates that.”