RUGBY LEAGUE: Fans urged to unmask Oxford's best-kept secret

Former Cambridge University player Ed Hayles has joined Oxford Rugby League

Former Cambridge University player Ed Hayles has joined Oxford Rugby League

First published in Rugby League Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

OXFORD Rugby League managing director Adrian Smith has urged fans to share’s the city’s “best-kept secret”.

Smith has issued an open letter asking supporters to spread the word about the club, who begin their second season in England’s third tier on Sunday.

Oxford host London Skolars in their Kingstone Press Championship One opener at Iffley Road (3), looking to build on a promising debut campaign.

“Everyone at the club is dedicated to continue establishing the team in Oxford and improving our success on the field,” said Smith.

“But I have a feeling we are still a best kept secret.

“We are using all media channels available to us, but nothing is stronger than word of mouth and a positive recommendation to spread the word.

“So I’m seeking the help of all Oxford RL fans to introduce a friend, a work colleague or family to get down to Iffley Road and experience the greatest game.”

Oxford were set up in 2012 as one of three southern clubs with the mission of spreading rugby league into new areas.

They reached the play-offs last season after coming sixth and are determined to improve on and off the field.

Smith said: “While the aim is to get the team in shape, it is also important to create a real local presence in the community.”

Oxford’s second match is at Gateshead Thunder before they visit Hunslet Hawks in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup third round, having been paired with the west Yorkshire club in Monday’s draw.

The club have announced a host of new signings over the close season, with Jordan Rice, Andy Winfield and Ed Hayles their latest recruits.

Rice, a 23-year-old loose forward and Scotland A international, joins from University of Gloucestershire All Golds.

Half back Winfield, 22, was part of the Cambridge University side, who lost to Oxford in last year’s rugby league Varsity Match.

Back-rower Hayles, 31, is also a former Cambridge student, who has represented Elmbridge Eagles, Realmont, Lescure-Arthes and Gloucester Warriors.

He said: “I’m looking forward to running out at the historic Iffley Road ground, but I have to admit it will be strange to be wearing dark blue – even if it’s not Oxford University!”

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