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Maitland Rugby Union Club purchases Marcellin Park

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The second oldest rugby club in Australia, Maitland, is set to turn a new page after purchasing Marcellin Park from the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle this week.

The Catholic Diocese agreed to exchange on the parcel of land in Lorn, following a three-decade-long partnership between the two organisations.

Since 1994, the Catholic Diocese has supported the Maitland Rugby Union Club (MRUC) by providing them with a long-term lease of the grounds at peppercorn rent.

In recent years the club, which has experienced significant growth, developed a masterplan for Marcellin Park.

The federal government lent its support to the proposal, too, pitching in $500,000 in funding through the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant to help bring their vision to reality.

The club, which is also expected to contribute $1 million towards the first stage of the nine-stage development, sought to shore up its longevity at the adopted homeground before submitting a DA to Maitland City Council.

MRUC president Pat Howard and life member Todd Bowd recently met with representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The duo then proposed the club purchase the parcel of land.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the diocese for the support they’ve shown to us by leasing Marcellin Park to us at a reduced rate for the past 30 years,” Howard said.

“As we enter this new stage in the club’s identity, we felt that if ever there was a time to officially make Marcellin Park the ‘home’ of MRUC, now is it.

“Being a club that is entering into its 145th year, recognising our history is something that is most dear to us.

“Since being at Marcellin Park, the Catholic Diocese’s contribution is part of our proud history.”

Accordingly, Howard presented the club’s vision for the ground to become a community asset that would include a new clubhouse, netball courts and a multipurpose area, junior training and playing fields, improved parking facilities, lighting, and drainage and, eventually, an indoor swimming pool.

In exchange for the sale, the MRUC also proposed schools in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, including All Saints College and St John’s Primary School, could continue to access the facility free of charge.

Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s CEO Sean Scanlon supported the club’s vision.

“MRUC has developed a great concept for Marcellin Park, which will benefit the entire community,” he said.

“We accepted their proposal as we want to see them succeed and are buoyed by the opportunities the new facilities will deliver to our students.

“Good things happen when organisations work together.”

All Saints College Maitland principal Marc Romano was equally as happy.

“All Saints College has many students who currently play for MRUC,” he said.

“So, I’m excited for what this new era in partnership will deliver for them, as well as all our pupils who will gain access to a range of first-class facilities that will take sports programs to the next level.”

The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Maitland purchased the land from Leslie John Hicks in June 1965.

As part of the deal struck in December 2021, the club has agreed to retain the name Marcellin Park, to protect and preserve the history of Marcellin Park and for a representative of the diocese to become a member of the Marcellin Asset Protection Sub-Committee of the Maitland Rugby Union Club.

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