ONE of the oldest clubs in the north of England are to join forces with one of the youngest.

Otley RUFC, formed in 1865, are to share their home pitch at Cross Green next season with Old Grovians, who were formed in 1964 but reformed in 2007 to join the rugby union pyramid.

The Cross Greeners, relegated this season from National League Two North to tier five (North Premier), are hoping to move to their spanking new premises near the East of Otley Relief Road for the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

Old Grovians, meanwhile, who have been playing at Elm Tree Farm at Apperley Bridge, with limited changing facilities while using the nearby Stansfield Arms for after-match elements, finished ninth in Yorkshire Division Two in the season just ended.

A statement from Otley RUFC said: "It is with great pleasure we can announce that Otley Rugby Club and Old Grovians Rugby Club have reached an agreement effective from the 2020-21 season which will see the two clubs co-locating at Cross Green.

"We are optimistic this is the start of a long-standing successful partnership which has the full support of both committees.

"Old Grovians play in Yorkshire Division Two (Level Eight), finishing ninth at the end of last season.

"The intention is that they will play all of their home games at Cross Green once rugby resumes.

"Once together, this partnership will kick-start our wider ambition for the Saracens (Otley's second XV) to develop an Academy under-20 side over the coming years.

"Old Grovians are likely to be one of Yorkshire’s youngest clubs, formed in 1964 by Tony Bramwell.

"At the time he was playing for Ilkley, and a governor of Woodhouse Grove School asked him to form an old boys' rugby team for the newly created sports and social sub-committee of the Old Grovian Association.

"The 1964-65 season was the club’s first active year, in which, as a trial season, eight out of an arranged ten games were played with them winning two, losing five and drawing one.

"Over the intervening years, they have steadily moved up the leagues, and at the end of the 2012-13 season were crowned champions of Yorkshire Four, only losing one game. Three promotions in five years shows the club’s ambition to grow and play good rugby.

"Links between the two clubs include the winger Paul Sampson, who played for Old Grovians before joining Otley in the 1995-96 season.

"He went onto to play for Wasps during which time he made three appearances for England. More recently, Ben Magee played at OG and Ilkley before coming to Otley, while Joe and Harry Garforth, Sam Pickering and Dan Secker have gone from Otley to Old Grovians."

Old Grovians have also issued a statement, which reads: "As we all navigate through testing times in light of Covid-19, we wanted to provide an update of positivity and optimism for the future of Old Grovians RUFC.

"It is with great pleasure that we are now in a position to inform you all that Old Grovians Rugby Club and Otley Rugby Club have reached an agreement effective from the 2020-21 season which will see the two clubs co-locating at Otley’s Cross Green facility, with Old Grovians playing, training and holding social events as guests of Otley Rugby Club in the first season.

"We are optimistic that this will be a long-standing successful partnership which has the full support of both committees.

"Otley Rugby Club will become the venue for all Old Grovians home fixtures, which I am sure you will find just as exciting as we do as our players, members, supporters and away team visitors can access a vast array of facilities on match day that we have previously been unable to provide.

"For those unaware, Otley have advanced plans in place to relocate from Cross Green to new, world-class facilities in the next two years, which Old Grovians will use and benefit from as this partnership develops.

"We truly believe that this partnership will ensure that Old Grovians and Otley have one of the brightest rugby futures in England. We will share more details of exact timings of the new facility at the earliest opportunity.

"As has always been at the heart of the ethos of OGRUFC, our players safety, welfare and playing experience is our first priority and, while we have always endeavoured to provide this within our means, this partnership gives us the opportunity to provide the best possible experience to all of our players in order to drive recruitment, retention, performance and enjoyment.

"In order for our players to continue to perform, we are truly reliant and dependent on their family’s support and we hope that this announcement gives you confidence that you can continue to support in a level of comfort that you won’t have experienced previously with OGRUFC.

"For our members, supporters and guests, this partnership will transform your experience of Old Grovians Rugby Club and we look forward to welcoming you to Cross Green whenever the 2020-21 season is able to commence."