World Cup winner Neil Back has praised Ellesmere Port RUFC for being crowned Pride of the North once again.

England legend Back called in to Chester Road over the weekend after the club won the  NatWest RugbyForce poll, run in partnership with the RFU.

More than 2,600 people voted for the Oilers, helping them edge out Redcar RUFC for the title.

As a regional winner, Ellesmere Port received a commemorative plaque, a barbecue and a visit from Back, who won 66 caps for England and five for the British and Irish Lions.

He joined club volunteers for the NatWest RugbyForce weekend, which took place on Saturday and Sunday.

Players, parents and officials were split into groups and mucked in to improve the facilities at the club.

Back said: “Ellesmere Port deserves a lot of credit having won the Pride of the North for the second year in a row.

“They rallied together and have really shown what can happen when the community gets behind their club.

“It was great to come down to Ellesmere Port over NatWest RugbyForce weekend and witness their community spirit first hand.

“I really enjoyed getting stuck in and wish the club all the best for the future.”

Ellesmere Port first won the title 12 months ago and junior chairman Andy Pratt is delighted to have won it again.

He said: “The NatWest RugbyForce programme is all about raising awareness within the community and we certainly managed to do this with 2,616 votes the highest in Britain.

“Winning the title for the second year running was fantastic but getting to meet and work alongside England legend Neil Back was a true honour for all our members

“Neil wasn’t shy of work and he got involved with members whilst we painted the containers, changing rooms, pitch fences, back filled holes on the training area, dug a new family seating area, dug a new channel for the electric feed for the container lighting and the general tidy up of all the rugby area, removing rubbish and large rocks into a skip and making the area safe 

“During this busy workload, Neil had time to do a training session with the children who had turned up for the event and he shared his rugby skills with them all.

“It was a truly fantastic day and weekend.”

Oilers chairman Paul Watkinson said the title had helped raise the club’s profile.

He said: “It demonstrates what our membership can achieve in conjunction with the community.

“Winning the award again this year was made even sweeter by the visit of Neil Back, a rugby legend and top bloke.”

Ellesmere Port RUFC run junior and senior teams and new players are always welcome.

More information can be found by visiting  the club website at