Rugby legend Martin Johnson ensured the opening of new facilities at a sports club received star support when he did the honours.
The former England coach and Leicester Tigers, England and Lions captain unveiled the new extension and refurbishment at Harborough Rugby Club, where the World Cup winner played 30 years earlier.
The club now has new changing rooms, a shop, a physiotherapy and gym facility and new toilets. It is hoped this will attract new players.
The improvements are the beginning of the club’s 1923 Project to re-develop the site in Northampton Road.
Mr Johnson said: “I’m glad the club asked me to come here and unveil phase one of their development project.
“As a local man, I’m a big supporter of rugby and the clubs in this area.
“I grew up in Harborough and played a bit for the minis and juniors here when I was young.
“In fact, I think there’s a photo on the wall in the clubhouse of me aged 10 appearing with them at Welford Road.
“That was a long time ago, but this club has kept pace with the way that rugby’s developed.
“The minis and juniors attract hundreds of players, the biggest in the region, and now girls are playing the game too.
“I’ve still got good friends here from those old days here.
“The relationships you form in the sport are just as important as playing and are what makes the game special.
“You need a good place for everyone to change in and mix before and after the game and I was proud to open this new facility for my local club which is an important part of life here.”
Phase two of the project will see the entire clubhouse, given a complete make-over in the next couple of years, if the funds can be secured.
Construction of phase one started in May last year and was completed on time and budget thanks to architects LE1 and construction firm WW Brown & Sons.
Funding from the Rugby Football Union, Sport England, the Market Harborough and Bowdens Charity and Harborough District Council has made this phase of the project possible.
Club chairman Phil Jarvis said: “This is a big step towards having some of the best facilities in the area aimed at attracting more adult and junior players to the club.
“People from the community can use them for rugby and other sport and leisure activities during the week and at weekends.”